Local Authority C-19 Weekly Updates - 5th November

Local Authority C-19 Weekly Updates - 5th November

In this issue:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Social housing

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Governance

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Prime Minister announces new lockdown from 5 November

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, delivered a speech on 31 October 2020 announcing new restrictions for England from 5 November 2020 amid rising coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. From 5 November 2020, people may only leave their houses for limited reasons, including for education, work if not possible to do so from home, exercise or recreation alone or with members of your support bubble, medical reasons, shopping for essentials and caring for the vulnerable.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 37.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—MPs approve 28-day lockdown for England

On 4 November 2020, MPs voted to approve regulations imposing new coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown measures in England from 5 November 2020. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 4) Regulations 2020 were introduced under the made affirmative procedure on 3 November 2020, requiring parliamentary approval within 28 days to remain in force. The regulations (and associated lockdown measures) enter into force on 5 November 2020 and expire on 2 December 2020. The House of Lords consideration of the regulations followed after the Commons proceedings, with several motions to amend, including on fatal motion and five motions of regret.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 115 and LNB News 04/11/2020 75.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Job Retention Scheme extended

The government has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will remain open until December 2020, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked up to a maximum of £2,500. In Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) (Amendment) and Miscellaneous Amendment Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1201, provisions are made to amend the Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Regulations 2020 to ensure financial support continues for certain claimants during the pandemic—claimants receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Universal Credit (UC) and Carer’s Allowance (CA) so that they are not penalised for following Government advice in England, Scotland, and Wales. These Regulations come into force partly on 12 November 2020, and fully on 24 November 2020.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 85 and LNB News 04/11/2020 42.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—government increases support to self-employed

The government has announced that it is increasing support to the self-employed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with the UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, enabling self-employed individuals to receive 80% of their average trading profits for November 2020. Grants will be paid faster than planned, as the claims window will open at the end of November 2020, rather than the middle of December 2020. The increase in support brings the level of support to £4.5bn for the self-employed between November 2020 to January 2021. Government loan schemes will also be available and have been extended until the end of January 2021.

See: LNB News 03/11/2020 6.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—statutory sick pay enhancement scheme guidance published

The Welsh Government has published guidance on the coronavirus (COVID-19) statutory sick pay enhancement scheme, which supports care workers who have to stay off work or self-isolate due to actual or suspected coronavirus. The scheme will provide funding to allow employers to pay eligible workers at full pay and aims to remove ‘the financial disadvantage to care workers of staying away from work’. The scheme will run from 1 November 2020 to 31 March 2021. Details of eligibility criteria and how the scheme works can be found within the guidance.

See: LNB News 03/11/2020 9.

Councils will maintain their support to people amid coronavirus lockdown measures

The Local Government Association (LGA) has highlighted that councils will be supporting their communities during the second coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. LGA has also mentioned that the importance of using local expertise is one of the lessons learned since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It therefore calls on the government to ‘co-develop a clear strategy for after the national restrictions’ with councils, to provide councils with ‘timely, clearer, more precise information on who they should be trying to contact’ in order to maintain local contact tracing efforts, and to coordinate with councils the roll-out of vaccines in due course. LGA has also mentioned that it is ‘critical’ for the government to provide enough funding for councils to support adequately people.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 108.

Enforcement notice served on major high street retailer amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The London borough of Barking and Dagenham has announced that the East London council has issued an enforcement notice on major high street retailer B&M for failing to implement the coronavirus (COVID-19) face coverings requirement in stores. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham council previously issued a Community Protection Warning Notice to B&M and other high street stores, for failing to enforce the wearing of face coverings in stores. The council has now issued B&M with a Community Protection Notice that legally requires B&M to 'stop applying a policy of non-enforcement of the requirement to wear a face covering and to stop allowing access to their stores to any person who is not wearing a face covering', unless those individuals have a legal exemption. The notice will require B&M to put in place a system of surveillance to make sure face coverings are worn in their stores. Council enforcement officers will continue to observe the stores to make sure they are taking all reasonable measures to comply with the notice.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 72.

West Midlands Police closes shisha lounge flouting coronavirus (COVID-19) rules

West Midlands Police has forced a shisha lounge to close down after it was caught breaching coronavirus (COVID-19) safety rules, days after being fined £10,000 for another breach. A closure order has been issued to Kasablanca in Highgate, following an incursion into the venue at 1 am on 24 October which found more than 150 people inside with no social distancing. The order will be reviewed every week by the local authority, and the venue will have to have prove it is complying with the law before it can open again. Viollet Salon in Smethwick has also been issued with a £10,000 fine after police found up to 70 people inside on 10 October 2020.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 65.

DfT announces additional £1.7bn funding for TfL amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced an additional £1.7bn in funding for Transport for London (TfL) in order to keep London transport going amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The funding will be used to make up the fare revenue lost due to coronavirus and will last until March 2021. The funding follows the previous support package of £1.6bn and will mean that despite tougher national restrictions from Thursday 5 November 2020, tubes and buses will remain available for those who still need to travel. The Mayor of London has stated that national taxpayers will continue to fund free travel concessions to standard English levels and free travel to school for children who qualify under national legislation. He will also make £160m in savings over the next six months in TfL and raise fares by RPI+1%.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 32.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—third phase of Welsh ERF open for applications

The Welsh Government has announced that the third phase of its Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) is now open for applications from Welsh businesses. The third phase makes £300m available for businesses that continue to be affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The ERF programme has so far supported 13,000 businesses.

See: LNB News 29/10/2020 48.

Guidance published on local authority powers amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health & Social Care has published statutory guidance on local authorities' powers to impose restrictions, laid out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 3) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/750, which came into force on 18 July 2020. The guidance is aimed at local authorities in England to help them understand what the new regulations enable them to do, how they should exercise these powers, how the powers should be enforced and offers guidance for individuals impacted by local authority directions.

See: LNB News 03/11/2020 74.

Welsh Government issues guidance for buying essential items amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has published Q&A guidance regarding shopping and the availability of essential items during the firebreak amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The guidance provides information as to why certain shops are closed and why parts of supermarkets are closed, what to do when an item is physically in the shop but is not available for sale, whether evidence is needed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances in order to allow an individual to buy a product, and whether checkout staff or the police will be monitoring whether items purchased are essential. The guidance also provides information for shop owners selling products that supermarkets can now sell in an emergency and whether they will be allowed to reopen.

See: LNB News 29/10/2020 62.

Welsh business grants fully subscribed amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has announced that the £100m business grant element of the Economic Resilience Fund has been fully subscribed with over 5,500 businesses applying for support. However, businesses are still able to benefit from the £200m available from the third phase of the fund. Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that have been required to close and have a property with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 can apply for a share of £200m and all businesses eligible for small business rate relief will receive support.

See: LNB News 30/10/2020 88.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Welsh Minister delivers post-firebreak statement

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has made an oral statement to the Welsh Parliament on Health Protection Measures Post-Firebreak. Drakeford answered a number of questions posed to him by Welsh Ministers on how Wales will handle future coronavirus (COVID-19) related issues. Drakeford confirmed that the current restrictions in Wales will come to an end on 9 November 2020.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 88.

Welsh Government launches challenge for supportive projects during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has announced a new challenge for businesses with innovative products and services that will support communities and the public sector adapt to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) has £250,000 to offer successful projects, with up to £50,000 available for projects able to start in January 2021 and be completed by the end of March 2021. The deadline for submissions is 12.00 pm on 27 November 2020.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 61.

Health Protection (Notification) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1175

Amendments are made to the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 to require that a test provider, as defined in the regulations, that provides point of care tests (‘POCT’) to an individual for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) or for the detection of influenza, must notify Public Health England (PHE) of the result of that test (whether that result is positive, indeterminate, negative, or void). It is a requirement that, insofar as it is known to the test provider, specified personal information is provided to PHE along with the test result and test information. These Regulations come into force on 23 November 2020.

See: LNB News 30/10/2020 5.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium, High and Very High) (England) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1176

Provisions are made to enable a number of public health measures to be taken to reduce the public health risk posed by the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It moves Warrington Borough Council from Local COVID Alert Level High to Local COVID Alert Level Very High. This enables the higher public health measures provided for in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020 to be applied to this area. These Regulations come into force on 27 October 2020.

See: LNB News 29/10/2020 66.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium, High and Very High) (England) (Amendment) (No 3) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1183

Provisions are made to enable several public health measures to be taken to reduce the public health risk posed by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It moves the following areas from Local COVID Alert Level High to Local COVID Alert Level Very High. This enables the higher public health measures provided for in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020 to be applied to these areas in England. These Regulations come into force on 30 October 2020.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 1.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1189

Provisions are made to make changes to the areas which are subject to the restrictions set out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020 in England. These Regulations come into force on 31 October 2020.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 34.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) (Amendment) (No 3) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1192

Amendments are made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020 to amend the list of areas which are subject to the restrictions specified in Schedule 2. These Regulations come into force on 31 October 2020.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 36.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No 21) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1190

Amendments are made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 to remove Cyprus and Lithuania from the list of exempt countries or territories from which passengers arriving in England are not required to self-isolate on arrival. These Regulations come into force at 4.00 am on 1 November 2020.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 31.

Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 3) (Wales) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1149

Provisions are made to requires people living in Wales to stay at home, unless they have a reasonable excuse not to. In addition, in the limited circumstances where people can leave home, there is a restriction on people gathering with anyone who is not part of their household. The overall effect of these provisions is to restrict movement of people within Wales. These Regulations came into force at 6.00 pm on 23 October 2020.

See: LNB News 30/10/2020 34.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Healthcare

NMC opens consultation on future use of coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency powers

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has launched a consultation on its future use of powers it was granted by the Department of Health and Social Care in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The powers relate to the flexibility of the NMC’s fitness to practise and registration appeals, and revalidation and fee payment. The NMC is seeking views from the public, professional and health and care sector partners by 15 January 2021.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 63.

Temporary suspension of signatures for prescriptions amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced temporary approval to suspend the need for signatures for prescriptions, dental and ophthalmic forms for five months until 31 March 2021 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This measure aims to help avoid cross contamination and help minimise the handling of paperwork when collecting medicines or receiving dental and eye care.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 51.

Everyone in Liverpool to be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that as part of a pilot, everyone living or working in Liverpool will be offered coronavirus (COVID-19) tests regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, in order to find more positive cases and break chains of transmission. The pilot aims to inform a blueprint for how mass testing can be achieved and how fast and reliable coronavirus testing can be delivered at scale. This is the first step towards rolling out mass testing more widely across the UK. The tests will be provided through a partnership between Liverpool City Council, NHS Test and Trace and Ministry of Defence, with support from Armed Forces personnel and you can secure a test by booking online, walk-in centres, or by invitation from the local authority.

See: LNB News 03/11/2020 30.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—NHS contact tracing app to undergo updates

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that the NHS COVID-19 app is to undergo updates to make it more accurate and user friendly. The app will be updated to utilise the latest version of Google and Apple’s built-in technology, API, which improves the estimation of distance between users via Bluetooth to better assesses whether someone is at risk of having caught coronavirus (COVID-19) and needs to self-isolate. This will, in turn, better increase the accuracy of ‘close-contact notifications’ sent by the app. The update will also lower the threshold set to notify app users at risk of having caught coronavirus to self-isolate.

See: LNB News 29/10/2020 122.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—vaccine information published by Welsh Government

The Welsh Government has published information on a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, outlining why a vaccine is important, safety guidelines and how it will be rolled out. The Welsh Government confirmed that it would follow the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation’s provisional recommendation that vaccines be first distributed to those most at risk, and will continue to be guided by any future recommendations.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 74.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Judicial review

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—judiciary confirms courts will operate during lockdown

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, and the Senior President of Tribunals, Keith Lindblom, have delivered a message on the new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in England announced on 31 October 2020. The Lord Chief Justice and the Senior Presidents of Tribunals have confirmed that the work of the courts and tribunals will be exempt from these measures. They praised the response of the judiciary, the magistracy and HM Courts & Tribunals Service to the ‘intense difficulties’ faced since March 2020 and urge judges and magistrates to make ‘full use’ of the measures put in place to reduce footfall in courts so cases can be dealt with as efficiently as possible. They stated that ‘It is vital for the well-being of the country that the administration of justice continues to operate’.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 73.

Government issues guidance for telephone and video hearings amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

HM Courts & Tribunals Service has published guidance outlining how an individual should prepare for a telephone or video court or tribunal hearing and what can be expected on the day. The guidance provides information on telephone and video hearing platforms, information for before the hearing, the day of the hearing and information for the end of the hearing.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 106.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Education

Guidance published for higher education sector amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Education has published guidance on how the new coronavirus (COVID-19) national restrictions in England impact the higher education sector. The guidance explains that students should not leave their term-time address to return home between 5 November and 2 December 2020, subject to limited exceptions in line with the restrictions for the rest of the population. ‘Commuter students’ can still travel to their provider but should consider public health travel guidance. Student learning can continue as planned in COVID-secure environments.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 110.

Universities urged to keep students informed of teaching plans during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Office for Students (OfS) has written to universities and colleges across England, urging them to keep their students informed on teaching plans in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is especially crucial in light of the newly introduced coronavirus restrictions, in force from 5 November 2020.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 109.

Ofsted updates on its operation amid coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown

Ofsted has updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and information relating to schools, early years, children's social care and further education and skills providers. The update includes new details on how Ofsted will conduct its work during the new coronavirus restrictions commencing on 5 November 2020.

See: LNB News 03/11/2020 76.

OfS urges universities to provide support to disadvantaged students

The Office for Students (OfS) has published independent analysis stating that over 1,000 extra students from the most disadvantages areas in the UK have commenced courses in high tariff universities in 2020—a 22% increase since 2019. As a result of this analysis, OfS has urged universities to ensure this progress is maintained and that these students are supported at universities, particularly amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Additionally, the OfS has published the final evaluation of its £7.5m ‘Addressing Barriers to Student Success Programme’, which ran from March 2017 to October 2019. The programme intended to improve student support and approaches, in particular for underrepresented students. Overall, the programme is viewed as a success in testing new learning and teaching interventions, in addition to improving understandings of what works for different groups of students.

See: LNB News 03/11/2020 31.

Chair of OfS conducts review of teaching and learning consultation responses

The Chair of the Office for Students (OfS), Michael Barber, has announced that he is conducting a review of the digital teaching and learning consultation held by OfS during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The OfS opened a consultation and call for evidence on the higher education section which closed on 14 October 2020. Barber said that the consultation revealed that there is ‘much bold thinking across the higher education sector’. The swift change to digital teaching amid the pandemic resulted in ‘more progress in a month that had been made in the previous five years.’ However, the responses also revealed setbacks, such as the technology not being as reliable as it needed to be, meaning some students had difficulty getting online.

See: LNB News 02/11/2020 16.

Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (Wales) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1194

Provisions are made to make amendments to the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (Wales) Regulations 2019 so that the requirement on local authorities in Wales to submit their first ten year plan by 31 January 2021 is amended to 31 January 2022 These Regulations come into force on 1 December 2020.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 78.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Children's social care

Welsh Government issues £12.5m to support vulnerable families amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has announced a £12.5m package to support vulnerable families and children throughout the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The package includes £2m for the Child Development Fund to aid child development delays in speech, language and communication, motor skills and personal and social development, £800,000 to support families experiencing conflict and difficulties, and £860,000 to enhance the services being provided to families in Flying Start areas. The package will also enable the development of Wales’ first Family Drug and Alcohol Court, as well as provide investment for social service support to allow families to stay safely together and further develop the capacity of Wales’ foster care provision.

See: LNB News 29/10/2020 46.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Social care

Updated guidance published for clinically extremely vulnerable amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Health and Social Care has published updated guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the new restriction during coronavirus (COVID-19). The government has also announced it will be providing £32m to upper tier councils in England to support the clinically extremely vulnerable. Individuals classified in this group will be able to use an online service for priority supermarket delivery slots and to inform their council if help is required. The clinically extremely vulnerable includes individuals with reduced immune systems, specific cancers or severe respiratory conditions.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 73.

Frequency of asymptomatic testing of care home staff reviewed amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, has written a statement on the weekly asymptomatic testing of care home staff amid coronavirus (COVID-19), a policy introduced in Wales on 15 June 2020 and extended on 4 October 2020 for a further eight weeks. In the statement, Gething has confirmed that statutory partners will be able to determine whether testing should be carried out weekly or fortnightly in their local areas, however, the Welsh Department of Health and Social Services must be notified of such decisions in advance. He further stated that a clear and coherent policy for protecting care home residents is crucial in the coming months, which will be achieved by staff testing informed by scientific, medical and public health advice.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 103.

Welsh Government issues £3m to support most vulnerable amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Welsh Government has announced that £3m funding will be made available to support the most vulnerable mental health service users in Wales during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Eluned Morgan, has confirmed that help will be provided to individuals seeking work and permanent accommodation, and to those struggling with mental health and substance misuse. The funding will provide vulnerable individuals with early, targeted support to reduce the escalation of complex needs and will be split across seven areas within the Welsh Government, including £1.4m towards third sector led schemes regarding mental health and wellbeing, £75,000 towards the ‘I Can Work’ programme, £25,000 to support the substance misuse workforce, and £750,000 to provide residential rehabilitation accommodation. £500,000 will be used to provide personal protective equipment to substance misuse services, £150,000 will be pledged to the Digital Inclusion Fund to enhance digital services and £50,000 will be used to support work with police forces across Wales.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 60.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Social housing

Housing industry should continue working securely amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Housing Secretary, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation and Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders have published a letter written to the housing industry, confirming that house building and its supply chains should continue working securely during coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with public health guidance. The Charter for safe working practice, which was published earlier in 2020, remains in operation, in addition to the Site Operation Procedures published by the Construction Leadership Council.

See: LNB News 04/11/2020 17.

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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.