Key National Updates
Updated: 4 days ago
Further easing of lockdown on April 12
From Monday 12 April additional premises will be able to reopen – with the rules on social contact applying. Indoor settings must only be visited alone or with household groups, with outdoor settings limited to either six people or two households. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households, and you must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have not formed a support bubble with. This second step includes:
non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons; and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3)
Overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble
Public buildings such as libraries and community centres can also reopen
The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events
Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain
People should continue to work from home where they can, and minimise domestic travel where they can. International holidays are still illegal
The number of care home visitors will also increase to two per resident, and all children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance
Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors
Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open)
Government urged to consult on a national ‘right to food’ in England
MP’s have urged the Government to consult on a national right to food and appoint a new minister for food poverty in England. Further information is available here.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known as the furlough scheme & Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension
Following the announcement in the Budget both the furlough scheme and support grants for self-employed people are being extended until September. You can find out more about coronavirus-related changes in this year’s Budget by clicking here.
New quarantine rules from Monday 15 February
The first travellers required to stay at quarantine hotels have begun arriving in the UK. All British and Irish citizens and UK residents who arrive in England after being in a high-risk Covid country now have to self-isolate in hotels. The "red list" of 33 countries includes Portugal, Brazil and South Africa. The new rules, which aim to stop Covid variants entering the country, apply to arrivals who have been in one of those places in the past 10 days. They have to pre-book and pay £1,750 to spend 10 days in government-sanctioned hotels. The cost covers the hotel stay, transport and testing. Full details can be found here.
Barclaycard raises minimum payments to help tackle persistent debts
Barclaycard has increased the minimum payments for credit card customers from this week. The new charges will vary from customer to customer, with the highest charges being between 2% and 5% of the full balance. Further information is available here.
Consultation – Debt Relief Order (DRO) limits
The Insolvency Service are consulting on changes to the criteria for DRO’s in England and Wales. The proposals, which are expected to increase the number of people eligible for a DRO by 15,500 per year are:
Increase the maximum disposable income from £50 to £100
Increase the maximum qualifying debts from £20,000 to £30,00
Increase the maximum assets from £1,000 to £2,000, but leave the separate allowance for a motor vehicle at £1,000
Implement these changes at the same time as the new breathing space scheme is introduced on 4 May 2021
Further information is available here.
Stop Loan Sharks app
The England Illegal Money Lending Team launched a new Stop Loan Sharks reporting app on 23 September 2020 which you can download for free on the App Store and Google Play. The app is mainly aimed at frontline professionals and provides useful information on how to recognise the signs of illegal money lending, respond to disclosures and where to refer clients to for specialist support. Their promotional landing page provides web users with an overview of the app and links to relevant app stores and share tools.
Pregnant and homeless: a guide to support Centrepoint have published a guide through the options and the services available to help women who are pregnant and homeless. To read the guide please click here.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) information from Public Health England
Public Health England has published the following guidance for:
Stop the Debt Threats Campaign
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s Stop the Debt Threats campaign has resulted in the Government announcing that they will make changes to the content of the most distressing debt letters. Further information is available here.
If you, or someone you support, is worried about debt help is available. Details of free and trusted organisations offering debt advice are available here.
Loan shark warning
The Illegal Money Lending Team have raised concerns over an increase in the use of loan sharks in the current climate. To report a loan shark, phone 0300 555 2222 in confidence or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk.
British Red Cross Hardship Fund
The British Red Cross, in partnership with Aviva, has created a Hardship Fund to provide financial support to people struggling as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). The fund provides cash grants of £120 per month for up to three months to help people meet essential living costs. More information is available here.
Kickstart jobs scheme
The Government has introduced a new Kickstart scheme in Great Britain; a £2 billion fund aiming to create hundreds of thousands of high quality six-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 years old who receive Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. To help smaller businesses, employers offering fewer than 30 placements will be asked to make a bid through an intermediary, such as a local authority or Chamber of Commerce, who will then bid for 30 or more placements as a combined bid from several businesses. This will make the process easier and less labour intensive for smaller companies who only want to hire one or two people.For more information, please click here.
Extra protection for renters
Legislation has now been introduced, so landlords must now give tenants 6 months’ notice before they can evict until March 2021, except in the most serious of cases, such as incidents of anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators. More information is available here.
You can find the most up-to-date guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable here.
Breathing Space regulations published
The Government have published the draft regulations for the Breathing Space scheme for people with problem debt. The scheme is due to start on 4 May 2021 and will allow a 60-day “breathing space period” with enforcement action from creditors halted and the interest applied to debts frozen. More information is available here.
NHS Test & Trace service in the workplace
The guidance on the NHS Test & Trace service for employers, businesses and workers has been updated this week. The update includes redrafting, for clarity, a new section on collecting customer and visitor data for NHS Test & Trace, and additional information on when a worker develops symptoms and orders a test. The updated guidance can be found here.
Coronavirus information from Public Health England
Public Health England has published the following guidance for:
Updated public information resources from Public Health England are available here.
Benefits and Coronavirus
For ongoing changes to benefits in relation to coronavirus, please check Newcastle City Council’s website page Coronavirus and benefits – news which will continue to include the latest announcements, so you can see them as they happen.
The Government have issued advice on staying safe if you’re a volunteer or if you’re socially isolating or shielding and need help from a volunteer. The advice, which includes what to do if you’re worried about someone’s health and how to get the support you need while social distancing, can be found here.
Newcastle City Council Active Inclusion 12 April 2021