Local Authority C-19 Weekly Updates - 28th January

Local Authority C-19 Weekly Updates - 28th January

In this issue:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Governance

DHSC announces £23.75m in coronavirus (COVID-19) funding

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that £23.75m funding has been allocated to councils and voluntary groups across England to expand coronavirus (COVID-19) communications to those most at risk. The DHSC also said Community Champions will share coronavirus vaccine advice and information, in order to boost local vaccination take-up and funding will be used to support extra school programmes, helplines and phone calls to those in the risk groups. This funding is part of over £7.2bn government funding to help councils support their communities during the pandemic. During the pandemic, the government has prioritised protecting the most vulnerable, with over £4m being invested into research on ethnic disparities in coronavirus.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 22.

Home Secretary announces £800 fine for those breaking rules on coronavirus (COVID–19)

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has announced a new fine of £800 for those who attend house parties during coronavirus (COVID–19). In her statement on 21 January 2021, Patel mentions that almost 5m people has been vaccinated across the UK, with the NHS vaccinating people at the rate of 200 jabs per minute. However, the rate of people wit coronavirus still continues to rise—up by 4.8% from the week before 19 January 2021. Patel announces that from the week of 25 January 2021, those who attend house parties of more than 15 people in homes will be fined £800, which will double for each repeat offence to a maximum level of £6,400. Patel states: ‘from the outset, we have given the police the necessary powers to enforce the rules, which are in place to stop the spread of the virus. As this latest measure demonstrates, we will not stand by while a small number of individuals put others at risk'.

See: LNB News 22/01/2021 23.

Government responds to Committee's report on temporary provisions in CA 2020

The Women and Equalities Committee has published the government’s response to its report on temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CA 2020) and the use of these provisions for disabled individuals. The government's response considers the Committee’s recommendations relating to the easements of the Care Act 2014, changes to the Mental Health Act 1983 and modifications to education, health and care needs assessment and plan processes. The government welcomes the Committee’s interim recommendations and the Committee's inquiry into the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) for disabled people. In its response, the government explains that it has taken steps to achieve a suitable balance between responding to the coronavirus pandemic and making sure that disabled people have access to the services they require.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 101.

Police officers face penalty for breaching coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations

The Metropolitan Police has reported that a group of Metropolitan Police officers are facing a £200 fixed penalty notice (FPN) after breaching coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations while on duty. It was alleged that on 17 January 2021 several officers had their hair cut by a professional barber while at Bethnal Green police station. An investigation revealed that 31 officers had been involved. Two officers, who were involved in organising the activity, are under investigation for misconduct. Local policing commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett, said: ‘It is deeply disappointing and frustrating that my officers have fallen short of the expectation to uphold COVID-19 regulations. Although officers donated money to charity as part of the haircut, this does not excuse them from what was a very poor decision’.

See: LNB News 26/01/2021 98.

DCMS publishes updates to VCSE guidance amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has updated guidance for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations during coronavirus (COVID-19). The updates are to information on self-employed income support and the coronavirus job retention scheme, as well as to some funding deadlines.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 88.

HMCTS details process for dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) cases

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has detailed its processes for dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) cases which impact courts and tribunals and explained how information about incidents can be shared with staff, judiciary and professional court users.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 88.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—HMCTS publishes updated operational summary for week commencing 25 January

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has updated its operational summary on courts and tribunals operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The summary for the week commencing (w/c) 25 January 2021 includes publication of a recording of a webinar on arrangements in place at courts and tribunals to meet government guidelines on coronavirus, publication of a blog post outlining the steps HMCTS are taking to keep custody suites in court safe for all users and a Nightingale Court opening for criminal non-jury trial work.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 25.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Wales seeks emergency bill for Senedd election safety

The Welsh Government has announced it will seek consent from the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru) to introduce an emergency bill on 27 January 2021. The Bill will 'provide a range of measures to adapt and manage the conduct of the next Senedd election' amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a last resort, the Bill will enable the election, due to take place on 6 May 2021, to be postponed for up to six months if necessary. Two-thirds of Senedd Members would need to agree to postponement and would also need to agree a new date for the election.

See: LNB News 22/01/2021 8.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Welsh Government launches £17.7m fund to support sports

The Welsh Government has announced financial support of £17.7m for spectator sports amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Spectator Sports Survival Fund will be divided between six sports, namely rugby, football, horseracing, cricket, ice hockey, and netball. This funding package aims to offer support for the winter period as it is assumed that ‘spectators are unlikely to return in any significant numbers before the summer’ 2021.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 41.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Restrictions) (Amendment) (No 3) (Wales) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/66

Amendments are made to the amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 in Wales. These Regulations came into force at 4 am on 22 January 2021.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 7.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Operator Liability and Public Health Information) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/68

Amendments are made to the International Travel Regulations, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Pre-Departure Testing and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Public Health Information for Passengers Travelling to England) Regulations 2020 for the introduction of the pre-departure testing (PDT) regime and addition of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania to the list, in Schedule B1 to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 International Travel Regulations, of countries and territories subject to additional measures in England. These Regulations came into force at 4 am on 22 January 2021.

See: LNB News 22/01/2021 57.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Operator Liability and Public Health Information to Travellers) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/72

Amendments are made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Public Health Information for Persons Travelling to Wales etc) Regulations, SI 2020/595 so that that specified information includes information about the requirement under regulation 6A of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/574 to possess notification of a negative coronavirus test result in Wales. These Regulations came into force at 4 am on 23 January 2021.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 57.

Official Controls (Temporary Measures) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/78

Provisions are made to in amend Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/466 which has become retained direct EU law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EU(W)A 2018), to allow easements to the system of official controls in Great Britain to continue beyond the existing end date of 1 February 2021 to 1 July 2021 in England, Scotland and Wales. These Regulations come into force on 31 January 2021.

See: LNB News 27/01/2021 7.

DHSC publishes speech on coronavirus (COVID-19) data and vaccine rollout

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published a speech made by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, on the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) data and the vaccine rollout. The speech emphasised that the health systems across the UK routinely work in collaboration and have been able to offer support when it is needed which include vaccines to ambulance services. Hancock continued by stating that the government is on track to offer those in the top four priority groups a vaccination 'by the 15 February.' He also said that if someone is in one of the top four priority groups and 'and you haven’t had the call yet, don’t worry: the NHS will be in touch.’ He also urged people to continue staying at home and maintaining social distancing when appropriate.

See: LNB News 26/01/2021 24.

DHSC announces that more employers have signed up for coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid testing

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that to protect the workforce during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, more employers have signed up to rapid testing. The expansion of testing will find more positive coronavirus cases which keep key workers from unknowingly passing coronavirus on while protecting vital services. The DHSC has said that organisations signed up to workplace testing include the DVLA, Apetito, Moy Park, Octopus Energy, Royal Mail, Primula and Tate & Lyle Sugars.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 28.

MOD announces armed forces aiding coronavirus (COVID-19) efforts across the UK

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced that over 5,000 members of the armed forces have been sent to support coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine centres, testing facilities and hospitals across the UK. This includes a further 800 defence medics going into NHS hospitals, 2,400 personnel to support community testing and readying 20 Vaccine Quick Reaction Force teams, with a further 21 on standby.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 34.

Welsh Government announces GPs collaboration for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations

The Welsh Government has announced that GPs in rural communities are joining forces to set up community coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination centres to help vaccinate over 80s closer to home in Wales. The community vaccination centres have been set up as part of the Welsh Government’s coronavirus vaccination roll-out strategy and have been located on the Llŷn Peninsula, Buckley in Flintshire and North Bridgend to deliver both the Pfizer and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. The Health and Social Services Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: ‘This enables GPs to use both of the vaccines available to us and will help more people to be vaccinated somewhere that is much closer to home than the large vaccination centres’.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 95.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—NICE publishes guidance on caring for patients with 'long COVID'

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published guidance on identifying and caring for patients with long COVID-19 (coronavirus). The guidance is aimed at commissioners and health and care practitioners and staff. Guidance is offered on a range of topics, including how to identify sufferers of long COVID, how to plan care effectively for them and how to ensure effective information sharing between health and care organisations.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 41.

Rapid response guidance notes on vaccination, testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) and mental capacity

In response to requests to advise on the legal position in relation to testing for coronavirus (COVID-19), especially as testing (a) starts to be more generally available and (b) is increasingly being rolled out as mandatory in certain settings, Neil Allen, Katharine Scott, Alexander Ruck Keene, Nicola Kohn, Vikram Sachdeva and Victoria Butler-Cole of the Court of Protection team at 39 Essex Chambers have published two rapid response guidance notes covering mental capacity, vaccination and testing for coronavirus. They provide a general discussion, as opposed to legal advice on the facts of individual cases, primarily regarding the position in England in relation to those aged 18 and above. Specific advice should be sought in respect of Wales and those under 18.

See News Analysis: Rapid response guidance notes on vaccination, testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) and mental capacity.

DHSC publishes letter about giving adult social care workers access to vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published a letter from the Minister for Social Care, Helen Whately, in relation to access to the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine for adult social care workers in the community. The letter is addressed to local authority directors and chief executives of adult social services care providers and outlines how they must contact their local director of adult social services with a list of staff that have not yet had the vaccine. They also must offer adequate support to staff during this process and must keep records of all vaccines received.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 12.

CQC announces settings for those with coronavirus (COVID-19) leaving hospital

The Care Quality Commission has announced that it is continuing to work with the Department of Health and Social Care, individual care providers and local authorities to provide high-quality and safe care in a designated setting to allow those suffering with coronavirus (COVID-19) to be discharged from hospital or going to a care home safely. This will also prevent the spread of coronavirus in care homes, as it will focus the care on people that have contracted coronavirus. The CQC has said there will be inspections of designated setting with specific elements being checked in the environment to ensure infection control is maintained. There are a further 31 ‘alternative settings’, where local authorities have agreed with local NHS partners to utilise NHS settings to fulfil the criteria of a designated setting.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 90.

CQC launches consultation on proposals for more flexible and responsive regulation

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has opened a consultation on proposals for a more flexible regulation. The proposals follow on from CQC's consultation on its new strategy launched in January 2021. The CQC is now proposing changes that will allow it to deal with the ongoing challenges as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and become a more dynamic, proportionate and flexible regulator. The purpose of this consultation is to enable CQC to assess and rate its services more flexibly, so that it can update its ratings more often in a more responsive and proportionate way. CQC believes that the 'changes will make ratings easier to understand for everyone'. Also, in the consultation document, CQC details how it will engage with stakeholders in the future once it makes changes to the way it regulates. The deadline for responses is 5 pm on 23 March 2021.

See: LNB News 26/01/2021 79.

Extra cash for the Welsh Carers Support Fund to help carers amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has announced that a further £250,000 to the Carers Support Fund, will help unpaid carers in Wales cope with financial pressures of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is open to carers across Wales, who will see grants of up to £300 being made available for essentials including food, household items or electronics for access to support and services. The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, said: ‘Working with Carers Trust Wales, who play such a pivotal role in delivering advice and support, the Carers Support Fund will be continued to be delivered via them’.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 16.

PM confirms schools will not reopen straight after half term amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has made a statement to the House of Commons outlining the latest position regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK. It comes as the death toll surpasses 100,000 people. Johnson confirmed that schools will not reopen immediately after the February half term and suggested 8 March 2021 as the new target date for reopening. As long as schools are closed, Johnson confirmed that the government would continue to provide free school meals for eligible children including food parcels and vouchers. In addition, Johnson committed to a £300m catch up programme for schools, consisting of tutoring, summer schools and a coronavirus premium.

See: LNB News 27/01/2021 78.

Commissioner calls for government to reopen schools amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Children’s Commissioner has announced that they have written a joint letter with Solace to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, which urges Johnson to set-out a roadmap for the reopening of schools safely amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The letter calls for the government to produce a ‘clear roadmap for reopening schools to all pupils. Without it, there is a risk that the status quo becomes embedded as a default position.’ The letter also said that this would help to ‘improve trust among schools, teachers, parents and children’.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 89.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—PHE pauses daily contact testing in schools

Public Health England (PHE) has published a new position statement on daily contact testing in schools amid coronavirus (COVID-19). The statement addresses the 'changing situation' in the UK in light of the emergence of a new coronavirus variant, which has shown increased transmissibility and higher secondary attack rates. PHE, therefore, now recommends that the rollout of daily contact testing within schools is paused, other than for those involved in further evaluation. PHE advice remains that schools should continue to test staff regularly (twice-weekly where possible) and test pupils twice upon their return to school.

See: LNB News 22/01/2021 33.

Ofsted publishes report on remote education amid coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Ofsted has published a report that found pupils’ motivation and engagement remains a challenge for schools providing remote education because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The report reveals the challenges that schools, teachers and other providers have faced in meeting expectations and considers solutions to make sure children continue to receive a ‘good education’ despite being away from the classroom. The report also finds that a large proportion of schools in England believe they are doing well at mitigating children’s learning loss and that many school leaders do not consider remote education as a barrier to curriculum delivery. However, the report finds parents and schools are concerned regarding children with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their engagement with remote education.

See: LNB News 25/01/2021 85.

DfE updates admission appeals code for school places amid coronavirus (COVID–19)

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its statutory guidance on how schools should administer their pupil admissions appeals during coronavirus (COVID–19). The update includes changes made to the regulations of the appeals during the pandemic has been extended to 30 September 2021. The guidance is intended to aid admission authorities to recognise their roles and responsibilities in the admissions appeals process.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 76.

Welsh summer 2021 exam grades to be decided by teachers amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has confirmed that students in Wales who were due to sit their GCSE, AS and A levels in summer 2021 will now be given grades decided by their teachers. This decision is the result of the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, which has again halted face-to-face learning.

See: LNB News 22/01/2021 6.

Children’s Commissioners publish letters about child poverty and coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has called for bipartisanship to tackle the child poverty crisis. Longfield, in her introduction to a collection of short essays on the subject, warns of exponentially rising poverty levels, which have been exacerbated by coronavirus (COVID-19), and the impact this will have on young people. In another letter, Longfield is joined by the other three Children’s Commissioners for the rest of the UK in urging the Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to prioritise teachers and other key workers within the children’s sector.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 87.

Ofsted announces delay to publishing outcome of Cafcass consultation amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

Ofsted has delayed the publication date for the outcome of its consultation on proposed changes to inspections of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) to March 2021. The reason for the delay is Ofsted resources having been diverted to efforts against coronavirus (COVID-19). The release of the new framework has also been delayed until March 2021. The new framework will be used in inspections of Cafcass from 1 April 2021.

See: LNB News 22/01/2021 74.

RSH publishes regulatory update regarding lockdown amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has published a regulatory update following the January 2021 national lockdown announcement amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

See: LNB News 21/01/2021 6.

 

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About the author:

Thea executes the campaign strategy for the small law and public sector segments for LexisNexis UK, producing content for thought leadership and marketing campaigns. She is a qualified marketer with a degree from St. Mary's University in Media Arts and has a demonstrated history working across legal and consumer products.