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 the Scottish Government will now move to test all symptomatic patients in care homes for COVID-19. Updated figures from National Records of Scotland showed that a quarter of Scottish coronavirus deaths have been in care homes.
You can watch the briefing here.
As detailed this morning, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has announced that further grants in the region of £220m are being made available for businesses - including the recently self-employed - to help them deal with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The new package of measures includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties. Further details are available here.
Separately, support has also been announced for aquaculture businesses threatened by the effects of COVID-19.
The UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is set to open for applications on Monday 20 April. The scheme provides a grant to cover 80% of a worker’s usual monthly wage costs and is applicable to workers who are shielding as well as those with caring responsibilities. The guidance has also been updated so that workers who have been on a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19th March are eligible to be furloughed.
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
- 11,656 people have now died in UK hospitals after testing positive for the virus. The total number of deaths has surpassed 12,000 when deaths outside hospitals are included in the totals. Over 93,000 people have now tested positive for the virus across the country.
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock says families will be allowed to say goodbye to dying relatives in UK.
- Ministers and their advisers do not yet have a plan for how to leave the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, according to multiple government sources, despite the chief medical officer saying the country is “probably reaching the peak” of the epidemic.
Scottish Government Briefing
- A total of 6,076 Scots had now tested positive for coronavirus, although the Frist Minister stressed that this would be an under-estimate and did not include figures from some local laboratories. There are 1,797 patients in hospital, 211 of whom are in intensive care. A further nine people have died after testing positive for the virus, bringing the total figure to 575. Figures only include hospital deaths where patients have recorded a positive test and there tends to be a reporting lag over the weekends.
- Interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith also said the lockdown measures were expected to remain in place for a "significant period of time". He also urged the public not to delay funerals.
- The First Minister has accepted assurances from Westminster that personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers are not being ordered to prioritise the NHS in England over Scotland and Wales
- UK: The Treasury has extended the coronavirus job retention scheme cut-off date by three weeks. To be eligible for the retention scheme, workers had to have been on their employer’s PAYE payroll on or before the 28 February. This date has now been changed to 19 March with the Treasury estimating 200,000 additional workers might now be covered.
- Scotland: Almost a quarter of deaths from Covid-19 in Scotland have taken place in care homes, new figures have revealed, as the First Minister announced a move to test all symptomatic patients and staff in such establishments. 433 care homes, from a total of around 1,100, had reported cases of coronavirus to date.
- Scotland: Questions have been raised about care home death discrepancies between Scotland and England, where just one in 20 deaths from Covid-19 was recorded in a care home. The 5% figure also contradicts a report this week by the London School of Economics, which found that care home residents have accounted for between 42% and 57% of all deaths related to Covid in Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and Belgium.
- Scotland: The Cabinet Secretary for Finance unveiled a £220 million package of business grants to help firms through the coronavirus crisis which included a move to close some of the funding gap between Scottish and English firms. Her announcement followed pressure from businesses and opposition politicians who were concerned that small Scottish businesses were not receiving as much support as their counterparts in the rest of the UK. The additional funds cover a £100m fund for SME businesses that are ineligible for SG & UKG support to date and £120m to extend grant scheme on a per property basis at 75%. Eligibility for the scheme has also been widened. However, hospitality and tourism industry figures say the approach freezes out many businesses in their sector because the methodology used to calculate property values means they are rated more highly than properties used by other sectors.
- Scotland: Private tenants need more support from the UK Government to avoid debt and homelessness as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a charity has warned. Shelter Scotland said current Universal Credit rates are too low in light of the fact many are applying for benefit for the first time. There are around 340,000 private renters in Scotland, while the UK has recently recorded a tenfold increase in new claims for Universal Credit. The housing element of the benefit only covers the lowest third of market rents in an area, meaning those paying average rents will face a shortfall.
- The US has nearly 640,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 30,800 deaths, confirmed cases of the virus pass two million, according to Johns Hopkins university. The true number of cases will be much higher, with levels of testing varying.
- Germany plans to let smaller shops reopen next week after the coronavirus shutdown, and to start reopening schools in early May – but Europe’s biggest economy is keeping strict social distancing rules in place.
- New Yorkers ordered to wear masks in public spaces.
- The IMF has suggested the UK and the EU should "not to add to uncertainty" from coronavirus by refusing to extend the period to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal. However, The UK Government will press on with Brexit talks with London and Brussels agreeing a timetable for rapid-fire talks between now and June in a bid to salvage the process.
- IMF reports that Sub-Saharan Africa is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis that threatens to throw the region off its stride, reversing the development progress of recent years and slow the region’s growth prospects in the years to come.
- Gulf sovereign wealth funds including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala are mobilising to buy assets whose valuations have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Bankers and people close to the funds said they were looking to invest in areas that would bounce back in a global recovery, such as healthcare, technology and logistics.
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