Please find below all of the important government coronavirus developments you need to know.
£6.1 million funding boost to help high streets and town centres: Hundreds of local business partnerships across England will share £6.1m of funding to spend on projects that will help their local economies through the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The money will be paid to local authorities and dispersed to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).
New discretionary top-up fund: A new fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. The UK Government has announced that up to £617 million will be made available under the scheme. Local authorities will be able to allocate awards of £25,000, £10,000 and up to £10,000 at their discretion. Further guidance for local authorities will be published shortly. The total amounts that each local authority in England has received and distributed under the existing Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund, was published on 3 May 2020 following the announcement of the top-up fund.
Bounce Back Loan Scheme launches and guidance updated: On 4 May 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Bounce Back Loan Scheme has launched and provided some further details in updated guidance about the scheme. The updates include confirmation of a 2.5% interest rate (after the initial 12-month interest free period) and removal of the 'undertaking in difficulty as at 31 December 2019' restriction. Although, if the undertaking was in difficulty, confirmation that the business complies with additional State aid restrictions under De Minimis State aid rules is required.
COVID-19 Adult Social Care: Note for local authorities: This note summarises some key considerations for local authorities in light of the Care Act 'easements' and the Government's action plan for adult social care.
Councils urged to plan for safe re-opening of recycling centres: The government has published new guidance for local authorities on how recycling centres can be safely re-opened during the COVID-19 outbreak. In a letter to local authority leaders and chief executives in England, councils are encouraged to open sites to avoid the build-up of waste in homes and businesses and reduce the risk of fly-tipping.
COVID-19 testing available for council workers: Letter from the Local Government Secretary thanking councils in England for their support during the pandemic and outlining how staff can get tested
Business rates revaluation postponed: A planned revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by COVID-19, but the fundamental review on the business rates system is still to take place, with the call for evidence being issued in the next few months.
Guidance on cancellations and refunds during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: With a rapid increase in the number of consumer complaints regarding cancellations and refunds due to the impact of COVID-19, this article examines new guidance provided by the CMA regarding this developing issue.
Welsh Procurement Community Knowledge Hub (Khub): The Welsh Government’s Commercial Procurement Directorate is establishing a Welsh public sector Commercial Procurement element of the UK Knowledge Hub. This will act as a virtual Welsh procurement community, which can help bring people together during these times of remote working and isolation, and provide access to online training and resources.
Welsh Government to ‘test, track and trace’ to control transmission of Covid-19: On 5 May 2020, the Health Minister Vaughan Gething mapped out a Response Plan to prepare Wales for the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Further expansion of testing announced: The expansion includes enhanced outbreak investigation in all care homes, sample testing in care homes, and testing of symptomatic over 65s and those with symptoms who cannot work from home. Households of these two groups will also be eligible for tests where they have symptoms.
Tax reliefs and support for businesses in Scotland: Using its devolved powers, and applying funds allocated under the Barnett formula, the Scottish government has announced specific measures to support Scottish businesses and protect the Scottish economy.
Commercial Real Estate completions in Scotland unlocked: On 27 April 2020, the Registers of Scotland opened a new digital submissions service allowing for scanned copy deeds to be submitted for registration in the Land Register of Scotland
Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for businesses: Scottish Government summary of information available on support for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister gives breakdown of testing expansion initiatives: Health Minister Robin Swann has issued a detailed breakdown of the expansion of COVID-19 testing in Northern Ireland.
NI Executive approves £40m grants for small firms: The NI Executive has approved a £40m scheme for small businesses which have not so far qualified for coronavirus grant support. The size of the grants under the new fund have not yet been disclosed.
View the government's latest guidance for local councils >
To view previous editions of the Public Sector COVID-19 Bulletin, please choose a date below: