May 27, 2020
As the Scottish Government’s focus on the economic impact of Covid-19 continues, the STUC will be providing regular bulletins to signpost you to the latest sources of information.
From our colleagues at the STUC:
As the Scottish Government’s focus on the economic impact of Covid-19 continues, we will be providing regular bulletins to signpost you to the latest sources of information. We hope that you will find this useful and share with your networks where appropriate.
- At today’s media briefing, the First Minister said that a new document has been published, providing an update on ‘COVID-19: A Framework for Decision Making’. The update sets out further information about the challenges Scotland faces and provides illustrative examples of the steps that might form part of the initial changes to the current lockdown restrictions.
- You can read the First Minister’s statement here.
- As advised earlier today, the second phase of the Small Business Grant scheme – which extends grant support to all subsequent eligible properties - is now open for applications. A review to examine how Scotland’s tech industry can help the economy recover from the impact of COVID-19 has also been announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. Full details are available here.
- A £5 million fund will offer interest-free loans to landlords whose tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the Covid-19 crisis.
- Advice for businesses and their employees is available athttps://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/
- There is an HMRC helpline for tax issues at 0800 015 9559.
- NHS Inform’s coronavirus webpage is the fastest way for people to get the latest health advice and information.
- Guidance for businesses looking to offer support for the ongoing effort to tackle the Covid-19 emergency can be found here.
Scottish Government announcements
- By law, Scottish Government must review its COVID-19 lockdown regulations every three weeks. It is clear that lockdown will not end this week. The document says “In line with our commitment to transparency, based on the current evidence for Scotland, this update indicates that it is almost certain that no significant change will be possible on 7th May and the lockdown will be extended. This position will be confirmed when we formally review the position on 7th May.”
- The First Minister launched a discussion paper on potential changes to lock-down. The paper sets outs options for consideration ahead of 28 May, including:
- Potential changes to leaving home. Essentially, allowing people to go out more as the threat level is lower outside. This could include ‘certain outdoor work activities’.
- Changes to advice about visiting other households. Excepting for shielded groups this could allow people to have a bubble of households/family/friends they could visit.
- Options for resuming care and support for those most affected by the current restrictions. Essentially, bringing back certain NHS and community care and support services suspended, eg screening programmes and certain group care activities.
- Changes affecting businesses that have been subject to restrictions or closure. The document says “We will engage and work with business and trades unions to support the reopening of certain workplaces as soon as possible, but only when it is safe to do so. This will be on the basis of a solid framework of guidance that supports safe working and is consistent with our Fair Work approach". It goes onto say that the initial assessments of this reopening “are likely to focus on construction, manufacturing and retail, where less work can be done remotely, as well as elements of outdoor and rural work, where transmission risks are likely to be lower”.
- Options for allowing pupils to return to school. The Education Recovery Group (ERG) has been established, chaired by the Deputy First Minister and including teacher unions - the first main task for the group is to model what a phased approach to school re-opening will look like. It suggests this will be some kind of mix of home and school learning and applied differently to different pupil groups.
- The options above will be coupled with Test, Trace, Isolate and Support strategy to keep on top of local outbreaks.
- A digital platform has been launched to get views from public and interested parties on these options -https://www.ideas.gov.scot/covid-19-a-framework-for-decision-making
- The second phase of the Small Business Grant scheme – which extends grant support to all subsequent eligible properties - is now open for applications. A review to examine how Scotland’s tech industry can help the economy recover from the impact of COVID-19 has also been announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.
UK Government announcements
- The UK coronavirus death toll rose above 32,000 to the highest in Europe.ONS figures and calculations revealed that 32,313 deaths were registered with Covid-19 on the death certificate. The government rejected international comparisons due to all-cause excess mortality as well as differences in how individual countries collect and measure their data.
- The Government stated that reopening all schools at once would create a very real risk of an increase in the infection rate and of a second peak.Raab said the evidence to date suggested the five tests and risk of a second spike were crucial to deciding how and when to reopen schools, and Sage is considering different options for how to do this safely.
- Dominic Raab said on that the return of sporting events would ‘lift the nations spirits’ And the government "has had constructive meetings with sports bodies". He said talks had focused on athletes resuming training when safe to do so. The culture secretary was looking at plans to hold sports behind closed doors
- Boris Johnson will set out plans to ease lockdown restrictions on Sunday10th May
- The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says up to 750,000 workers could be enrolled on the UK Government’s Jobs Retention Scheme during this quarter. The analysis claims up to 150,000 people could lose their jobs, meaning 900,000 Scots in total could be furloughed or out of work, the equivalent of one-third of the total workforce. Accommodation and food services is the sector predicted to fare the worst, with 140,000 staff furloughed and 30,000 job losses, the equivalent of 83% of the entire sector.
- New job starts in Scotland suffered the first fall in wage rates for seven years, according to an RBS survey
- The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is preparing to wind down the coronavirus wage-subsidy scheme for workers from July as part of government plans to gradually remove lockdown measures. The Treasury is understood to be examining several options for tapering the scheme, including cutting the 80% wage subsidy paid by the state to 60% and lowering the £2,500 cap on monthly payments. Another option promoted by employers’ groups to allow furloughed staff to work, but with a smaller state subsidy, is also under consideration.
- Britain has the worst published coronavirus death toll in Europe prompting calls for an inquiry into the handling of the pandemic. The government’s tally of fatalities across the UK reached 29,427 for those who tested positive for coronavirus, exceeding the 29,029 recorded in Italy – until now Europe’s worst-hit country.
- Virgin Atlantic announced plans to cut 3,150 jobs and end its operation of Gatwick. The airline said uncertainty over when flying will resume as well as “unprecedented market conditions” as a result of the pandemic had “severely reduced revenues”, leaving it to reduce its workforce by more than a third.
- The UK Committee on Climate Change has recommended that ministers enure funds earmarked for a post-Covid-19 economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions. They say the public should work from home if possible; and to walk or cycle and that investment should prioritise broadband over road building.
- The US Government has announced the winding down of the Corona Virus task force.
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