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UK Government COVID-19 Update, 19 June 2020

19 June 2020
Issue 12, 19 June 2020: All of the key government coronavirus news and guidance in a weekly legal update.

Government seeks list of "shovel ready" projects from LEPs and Mayoral Combined Authorities by Thursday 18 June: The Financial Times reports that the UK Government is planning to unveil a significant economic stimulus package in July 2020. As part of the preparation process, the country's Local Enterprise Partnerships and Mayoral Combined Authorities have been asked to submit lists of "shovel ready" capital projects by Thursday 18th June 2020. The move comes with only 200 days until the transition period with the EU is scheduled to come to an end, raising questions about the long term replacement for the UK's EU funds, the United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund.

CJRS: Flexible furlough HMRC guidance published: Following the Chancellor's announcement that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ("CJRS") is changing, introducing a new flexible furlough and employer contributions, the much anticipated guidance has been published providing the essential detail.

European Commission adopts White Paper on foreign subsidies in the Single Market: The Commission has adopted a White Paper dealing with the distortive effects caused by foreign subsidies in the Single Market. The Commission now seeks views and input from all stakeholders on the options set out in the White Paper. The public consultation, which will be open until 23 September 2020, will help the Commission to prepare for appropriate legislative proposals in this area.

New powers for councils to keep cyclists safe: From 22 June, local authorities will have new powers to keep cyclists safe. The plans, announced by the Department of Transport, are part of the Government's aim to build a "greener, healthier and more resilient transport network". We look at the measures announced so far, the impact of COVID-19 and the future of cycling schemes for local authorities.

Calls for central government to issue guidance for local authorities on local lockdowns to combat regional COVID-19 flare-ups: Local authorities and leaders of public health have raised concerns regarding the lack of resources or powers to enforce local or regional lockdowns. Giving oral evidence at the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee meeting on 15 June, Greg Fell, director of public health for Sheffield, said that while councils have the power to act to control smaller outbreaks in schools, workplaces or care homes, that did not apply for larger areas. Speaking in the commons on 17 June, Matt Hancock said "I have powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020 …. If powers are needed by local authorities, then there is a process to raise that requirement up through a command chain that leads to a gold command, which I chair, and then those powers can be executed on behalf of local authorities if they are needed." However concerns were raised by Fell and other local leaders of public health at the Housing Committee meeting on Monday that, by the time legal powers in the Coronavirus Act allowing larger scale local lockdowns had been conferred on local councils, the disease would be out of control again.

North Yorkshire council appeals to Rishi Sunak after Coronavirus creates £42m black hole: A local authority which launched a range of emergency measures and transformed its services to protect its 600,000 residents during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the crisis has seen it develop a £42m black hole.

LGA exposes potential for over a million new green jobs by 2050: The LGA is calling on Government to develop a set of economic recovery measures, including skills and employment schemes, complete with devolved funding to facilitate the training and retraining of local workforces.

Apprenticeships: Mayors back 7-point recovery plan: The plan, proposed by business groups London First and the North West Business Leadership Team, urges the government to take immediate steps to support the apprenticeship system or risk a lost cohort of young people.

New rules on face coverings came into effect on Monday: From Monday 15 June 2020,everyone must wear a face covering when travelling by public transport in England. Under the new rules, operators will be able to prevent passengers who refuse to follow the rules from travelling and police will be able to issue fines of £100.


Cabinet Statement: Our Future Wales: post-COVID-19 reconstruction: The Cabinet has issued a written statement regarding the gradual approach towards easing the lockdown restrictions,and delivering a “green” recovery, inviting people in Wales to send their thoughts on how to support recovery and reconstruction in Wales to the dedicated mailbox ourfuturewales@gov.wales by the endof July.

Economy Minister Ken Skates: driving up skills and employ ability vital for Wales’economic recovery: Skates repeated his calls for the UK Government to provide further support for the more than 316,000 people in Wales who are currently furloughed and the 102,000 self-employed people in Wales who are accessing the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, to ensure they can return to work after the outbreak.

Written Statement: use of medical masks in health and social care: Minister for Health and Social Services publishes advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales following new guidance on the use of masks from the World Health Organisation published on 5 June 2020.


Scottish Government launches £230m 'Return to Work' package: The Scottish Government launched a £230m ‘Return to Work’ package on 16 June to help stimulate Scotland’s economy and support economic growth following the pandemic. Funding for the scheme is made up of reallocated reserves from other schemes that have been interrupted by COVID-19. More than £78 million is to be invested into the construction sector, £51m for business support, including regeneration and roads maintenance, £66m to boost Scotland’s green recovery and £35.5m for digitisation of services,including the justice and education services.

Scottish Procurement construction procurement report May 2020: The newsletter,published 16 June, sets out the achievements, future activity, opportunities and challenges/risks in the construction industry.

SPPN 8/2020 “Coronavirus (COVID-19): recovery and transition from COVID-19”:This policy note, coming into effect on 1 July, is supplementary to SPPN 5/2020 on Supplier Relief(which sets out guidance for public bodies on options to ensure service continuity) with a focus on the transition from lockdown. According to the new guidance, public bodies should consider whether supplier relief measures already in place remain appropriate and work in partnership with their suppliers to develop transition plans out of relief. The SPN applies to goods, services and works contracts.

Apply to the Low Carbon Energy Project Development Fund: Application form and guidance published 17 June to support projects in development for low carbon heat and renewable electricity solutions, in order to create a pipeline for future deployment and build viable business cases that can support the energy sector and supply chain as it recovers from the challenges of COVID-19.

Northern Ireland

Executive moves forward on relaxations to Coronavirus restrictions: Further changes to the Coronavirus Regulations were approved on 11 June by the Executive.

View the government's latest guidance for local councils >

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Further Reading