• Vicky Holmes

Key National Updates

Updated: 6 days ago

National lockdown: stay at home

National lockdown rules now apply in England. For further information please click 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.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known as the furlough scheme

The Chancellor has extended the scheme until March 2021 (reviewed in January), with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. The Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends. For more information please click here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension

The grant is being extended from 1 November 2020. The grant will be increased from the previously announced level of 40% of trading profits to 80% for November 2020. For more information please click here.

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:

Free school meals map

Last week MP’s rejected proposals to extend free school meals provision into the school holidays which would have meant free hot food for children until Easter 2021. Following this decision many local businesses and community groups have offered support to families in need. Details of support can be found at . Details of organisations offering emergency, free or low cost food are also listed on Information Now –

Winter Economic Plan

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has set out plans to provide support to protect jobs and businesses who are adversely impacted over the winter as a result of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The key points from the speech are as follows:

· Jobs Support Scheme: The Government will support the wages of people in work to reduce redundancies. To be eligible for the scheme, the employee must work a minimum of 1/3 of their normal hours and be paid for these hours. The Government, with the employer, will then cover 2/3 of the pay lost by working reduced hours. The scheme will be available to all small and medium businesses, but large businesses will have to prove their turnover has fallen to be eligible for the scheme and is open to employers even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme. Employers who have used the furlough scheme will be able to claim both the Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus if they retain staff in work. The scheme will start on 1 November 2020 and last for six months

  • Self-employed Income Support Scheme: The scheme will be extended but will now be on similar terms to the new Job Support Scheme, so support will be at a lower level than previously

  • Bounce back loans: A new ‘Pay as You Grow’ scheme will allow businesses to repay bounce back loans over ten years instead of six. Struggling businesses can make interest only repayments and apply to suspend payments for up to six months. This will not affect credit ratings

  • Coronavirus interruption schemes: The Government guarantee will be extended for up to ten years

  • Extended deadlines: The deadline on all loan schemes has been extended until the end of the year

  • VAT: Businesses will be able to spread their deferred VAT payments due in March over 11 payments with no interest to pay

  • Tax: Self-assessed taxpayers will be able to pay outstanding tax bills over 12 months starting in January 2021

  • Hospitality and tourism: Plans to increase VAT rates to increase to 20% in January will be delayed until 31 March 2021

For more information, please click here.

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.

New financial support for self-isolating workers

Government have announced a new scheme offering £500 lump-sum payments to people on low incomes who are unable to work due to self-isolating. The new ‘Test and Trace Support Payments’ will run from 28 September 2020 to 31 January 2021. To qualify an individual must:

  • Have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

  • Be unable to work from home and lose earned income as a result of this

  • Be in receipt of a qualifying means-tested benefit

Further information is available here.

World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma which takes place on Saturday 10 October 2020. The link between money worries and poor mental health are well documented. If you, or the people you support, are worried about money help is available. Details of the agencies providing free and trusted money related advice can be found here.

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.

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

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.

Shielding changes  

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. 

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.

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 18 January 2021

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