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.
There was no update yesterday due to the bank holiday and no significant economy announcements being made. However, at the First Minister’s briefing yesterday it was announced that people were being asked not to delay the funeral of a loved one in anticipation of social distancing measures being lifted, as it could increase strain on funeral and mortuary services responding to coronavirus.
Communities and Local Government Secretary, Aileen Campbell also announced a new national helpline is being set up to provide essential assistance to those who don’t have a network of support but who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and third sector organisations across Scotland are being encouraged to apply for emergency funding to help cope with the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19).
At today’s briefing, the First Minister announced additional support worth more than £1 million to help people look after their mental health and wellbeing during and after the pandemic.
You can watch the full briefing here.
Elsewhere, reassurance has been given to prospective university and college students that they will receive their results on time, and qualifications will be assessed as part of the admissions process.
And a discussion paper has been published, setting out potential options for progressing serious criminal cases during the outbreak and in its aftermath.
Advice for businesses and their employees is available at https://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.
UK Government Briefing
- The Department of Health figures show there have been 12,107 deaths in hospital - an increase of 778 in the 24 hours between Sunday and Monday.
- Chief Medial Officer Professor Chris Whitty said: “13.5 per cent of care homes had reported cases and there had been outbreaks detected in 92 within the previous 24 hours. Care home operators accused the government of vastly underestimating the deaths of elderly people from coronavirus suggesting the disease may be circulating in more than 50% of nursing homes and that mortality is significantly higher than official figures.
- Rishi Sunak addressed predictions from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) that the UK economy could plunge by 35 per cent by the end of July with unemployment reaching 3.4 million. Admitted he is “deeply troubled” by warnings that the UK economy could shrink by 35% in the coming months as the economic costs from the coronavirus crisis mount.
- Sunak announces that the furlough scheme could potentially cover millions of people and a brand new system has had to be built to handle it. He says the plan is to get the scheme up and running by the end of April and the government is on track to meet that. He says the scheme is expected to open for applications on April 20.
- Sunak denies reports that companies are being told to prioritise England over Scotland in PPE distribution.
Scottish Government Briefing
- Coronavirus-related deaths in Scotland stand at 615. The number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 stands at 6,358. As of 2pm 14/4/2020, 32,885 people in Scotland have been tested with 26,497 confirmed negative and 6,358 positive.
- First Minister states that the Scottish Government will investigate reports that “supplies of PPE to care homes in Scotland are being diverted to England. She said if care homes supplies are affected it would be “unacceptable” and increase pressure on the national stockpile, which would be “a source of real worry”. Earlier, Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said that claims that NHS England and English care homes have priority on personal protective equipment (PPE) are “rubbish”.
- FM announced plans to invest a further £1 million in services to support mental health on top of a previous announcement to commit £3.3 million. Increase in funding will allow for the expansion of the use of distress brief interventions (DBIs) as well as pay for a Scotland-wide marketing campaign.
- FM says that discussions have started on how to devise Scotland's exit strategy from the Coronavirus lockdown - but warned it won't happen soon. She stressed that the lifting of restrictions was not imminent. She said “different options” were being discussed behind the scenes but stressed there were no “fixed decisions” yet as we “are not yet at a position to say we’ve got enough evidence” to relax curbs. “We’ve got certain groups of businesses closed, we’ve got other businesses advised to close on a cautionary principle. So the options are: Are there any elements of that that it would be safe to release, even before you released all of these measures
- Scotland: Survey suggest Scots firm shedding jobs at fastest rate in 20 years. The services sector reported its steepest drop in activity since the Royal Bank of Scotland Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) began in 1998. Meanwhile, manufacturing output fell at its sharpest rate since early 2009. The survey also indicates Scotland outpaced the rest of the UK in terms of job cuts last month.
- Scotland: The Child Poverty Action Group is calling for councils should make payments to those for whom it normally provides free school meals. It says this is better than providing vouchers or meals. BBC Scotland research showed a wide variation in the service being provided by councils during the emergency. Roughly a third are providing meals or packed lunches - while a few are providing vouchers which can only be redeemed at particular chains.
- Scotland: Reassurance has been given to prospective university and college students that they will receive their results on time, and qualifications will be assessed as part of the admissions process. Prospective university and college students are being reassured that they will receive their results on time, and universities and colleges will assess qualifications as part of the admissions process. Minister for Further Education and Higher Education Richard Lochhead has written to students emphasising that their educational futures are being protected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Universities are also being urged to observe a moratorium on changing offers made to undergraduate students.
- UK: Labour leader urges the government to publish an exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown this week. The government is expected to an announce an extension to the lockdown on Thursday. The government said talking about an exit before the virus had reached its peak risks confusing the public.
- US President Donald Trump says he has instructed his administration to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO). He said the WHO had "failed in its basic duty" in its response to the coronavirus outbreak. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said now was "not the time" to be cutting resources for the WHO. The US is the WHO's biggest single funder, providing $400m (£316m) last year - just under 15% of its total budget.
- Thousands of shops have reopened in Austria, as it seeks to ease restrictions brought in to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
- In Italy, where over 20,000 people have died in the pandemic, a limited number of shops and businesses have been allowed to reopen. But some of the worst-hit regions have decided to hold off including Lombardy and other regions in the north.
- Denmark has said it intends to ease its lockdown faster than originally planned.
- The European Commission has urged EU countries to co-ordinate with each other to relax measures gradually.
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