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  • Vicky Holmes

Key National Updates

Updated: 5 days ago

Prime Minister’s announcement – 9 September 2020


The Prime Minister has set out new measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Prime Minister's statement can be found here. The new measures include the following:


- From Monday 14 September it will not be possible to meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than six. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes. Education and work settings are unaffected


- Businesses will have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace. From Friday 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, which must be kept for 21 days

More information about the measures announced is available here. This also provides a link to simplified coronavirus (COVID-19) secure guidance.


Fair for You Social Impact Report 2020

Fair For You offers an affordable alternative to weekly payment stores. They provide low cost loans for new branded white goods, furniture (such as beds, mattresses, sofas and sofa beds), pushchairs and prams at fair prices for low income households. Unlike other weekly payment stores, Fair For You do not penalise customers who choose to repay their loan early or charge expensive missed payment fees and the maximum APR for loans is 42.6%, in line with the maximum interest rate charged by credit unions. Their Social Impact Report 2020 was undertaken by the Centre for Responsible Credit. Headline findings include:

  • Over £50 million of social benefit delivered so far

  • Customers are saving on average £30 per week

  • Over 70% of customers have been able to stop using high cost credit entirely

To find out more about Fair for You, visit www.fairforyou.co.uk.


Government support for renters this winter

People renting and affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) will continue to be supported over autumn and winter through measures confirmed on 10 September 2020 by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP. For more information, please click here.


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Furlough funding changes – employer contribution now required As of 1 September 2020, changes to the furlough scheme mean that the Government’s contribution to furlough pay reduces to 70% of wages claimed – capped at £2,187.50 – noting that the cap reduces in proportion to hours worked / not worked. The changes mean that employers must top up furlough grant claims to the minimum of 80% (capped at £2,500) and pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions. HM Revenue & Customs have produced a chart listing the changes as the scheme winds down, which is 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.


Extension of evictions ban

The evictions ban that was put in place due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been extended for another four weeks to 20 September 2020. For more information, please click here<https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jenrick-extends-ban-on-evictions-and-notice-periods>.


Barclaycard warns customers that it may have set credit limits too high

Barclaycard have apologised for setting some customer’s credit limits too high and has invited those who have been negatively impacted to get in contact. Further information is available here.


Quarantine – changes to travel corridors Holidaymakers returning to England and Wales from Spain are now required to self-isolate for 14 days with effect from 26 July 2020 following the UK Government’s announcement that Spain (and the Balearic Islands) has been removed from the exempt list of countries / travel corridors. More information is available here.


Self-isolation rules change

People who test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or show symptoms in the UK must now isolate for at least ten days. This change from the previous advice has been announced by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers in a joint statement. Until now, those showing the key symptoms – a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of taste or smell – had to self-isolate for at least a week. The new advice is in line with World Health Organisation guidance. You can read the Chief Medical Officers’ full statement here.


Shielding changes  

On 1 August 2020 the Government will pause the shielding programme for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19) unless there is a significant increase in transmission of COVID-19 in the community. People in the shielding group will no longer receive free food parcels and other support from the National Shielding Service, but could still receive help from NHS Volunteer Responders. They will also still be eligible for priority delivery slots from supermarkets, but only if they register before 17 July 2020. If you, or someone you know, is in the shielding category you may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus so you should continue to stay at home as much as possible and continue to take precautions when you go out, including washing your hands regularly and staying two metres away from people from outside your household or support bubble whenever possible. You can find the most up-to-date guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable here. 


Coronavirus Discretionary Business Grant Fund Round 2

New business support for SMEs launched on 27 July 2020. Grants of up to £5,000 are available for businesses not included in previous grants. More information, including details on eligibility, can be found 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.


Face coverings to become compulsory in shops

From Friday 24 July, wearing a face covering will be compulsory in shops and supermarkets. Failure to comply could result in a £100 fine, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. Enforcement will only be carried out by the police, though shops and businesses should encourage customers to comply with the new legislation. Exemptions will be made for children under the age of 11 years old, as well as those with certain disabilities and medical conditions.

A face covering does not have to be to a medical standard, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. The priority for face coverings worn by members of the public is that they cover both the mouth and nose, and that you continue following best hygiene practices and maintain social distancing.

You must also continue to wear a face covering at all times on public transport and when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient, unless you are exempt on medical grounds. 


Changes to the free TV Licence for people aged 75 years old and over

The BBC Board recently announced that the new scheme covering the over 75 year olds TV Licence fee concession would begin this month. TV Licencing have started to contact affected households. Residents do not need to take action until they receive a letter from TV Licencing and they will be given time to set up their new licence. Read more here: <https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2020/o75-august>

Please note that TV Licencing have noted an increase in the number of scams being reported. More information on how to spot and report scams can be found here.


Utilita Warm Home Discount scheme

Utilita’s Warm Home Discount scheme will be open for applications for one week only between 5 and 12 August 2020. Eligible Utilita customers who meet the ‘broader group’ critera may be able to get £140 credited to their electricity account to help with costs over winter. More details on eligibility and applications can be found here. Other suppliers who participate in the Warm Home Discount scheme are expected to announce their ‘broader group’ qualifying criteria and open their schemes later in the year, usually around September / October.


Premises opening (England) From Saturday 4 July, in England, many more premises were allowed to open and more services were available, providing they met COVID secure guidelines. This won’t happen in Leicester, where non-essential shops that were allowed to open from 15 June 2020 will now

have to close again. Premises and service that can open / become available from Saturday 4 July include:

  • pubs and restaurants

  • hairdressers

  • cinemas

  • museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades

  • libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres

  • accommodation sites for staycations, e.g. campsites,caravan parks, hotels, B&Bs

  • outdoor gyms and playgrounds

  • public toilets

For more information, click here.

Coronavirus Discretionary Business Grant Fund Round 2

New business support for SMEs launched on 27 July 2020 at 10am. Grants of up to £5,000 are available for businesses not included in previous grants. More information, including details on eligibility, can be found here.

Possession proceedings to resume from 24 August 2020 On 1 July 2020, in response to a written question in the House of Lords, Lord Greenhalgh, Minister of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “From 24 August 2020, the courts will begin to process possession cases again. This is an important step towards ending the lockdown and will protect landlords’ important right to regain their property. Work is underway with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need when possession cases resume”.


Coronavirus information from Public Health England

Public Health England has published the following guidance for:

households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection

non-household contacts of people with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection

Updated public information resources from Public Health England are available here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme continues until October 2020

From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time whilst still receiving support from the scheme. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. For more information, please click here.


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time whilst still receiving support from the scheme. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. For more information, click here. The Government has also launched a new calculator to help employers with their next Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims. Employers can use the calculator to work out how much they have to pay their furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees, how much they can claim for employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions, and how much they can claim back. You can access the new job retention calculator here. Please note that the calculator will be updated to reflect changes to the scheme over the coming months.


Coronavirus information from Public Health England

Public Health England has published the following guidance for:

· households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection

· non-household contacts of people with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection


For more information, our website has a range of resources for staff and volunteers on benefits and money advice and housing advice and homelessness prevention as well as information for residents.


Second payment holiday for consumer credit cards

The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed that credit card and loan customers struggling due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can take a second three-month payment holiday. More information is available here.


Ban on bailiff activity to end 23 August 2020

The Government have updated regulations restricting the actions of enforcement agents. More information is available here.


Tax Credit renewals

This year, HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) will automatically renew all Tax Credit claims apart from a small number they have identified as needing some more information from. This means that around 3.9 million customers will have their claim auto renewed. These customers will receive an auto renewal pack and they will only need to contact HMRC if their details differ from those quoted in the renewals pack. Approximately 150,000 customers who HMRC need some more information from will be sent a reply required renewal pack. These people will need to complete their renewal by 31 July 2020 in the normal way (online, using HMRC's app, by telephone or by post). More information is available here.

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 21st September 2020

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Tel: 0191 230 2970

Newcastle Futures, 1 Cathedral Square, Cloth Market Newcastle upon Tyne United Kingdom NE1 1EE

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