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UK Government COVID-19 update, 21 May 2020

27 May 2020
Issue 8, 21 May 2020: All of the key government coronavirus news and guidance in a weekly legal update.

UK Government publishes draft free trade agreement in hope of breaking EU negotiation deadlock: The UK has sought to strengthen its negotiating position in its talks with the EU by publishing a series of draft legal agreements it hopes will form the basis of a comprehensive free trade agreement. The move comes as concerns grow that the EU's focus has shifted to prioritise the Covid-19 pandemic at the expense of UK trade talks.

State aid law: FAQs: We have produced a set of FAQs to provide information on State aid law in the UK, including in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the expected changes to the UK's State aid regime at the end of the UK's transition period.

The Government has extended the deadline on the Public Works Loan Board: Future lending terms consultation to 31 July 2020: The consultation into revising the terms of PWLB lending was announced by the Treasury in March to address the use by local authorities of PWLB finance to purchase commercial property purely for rental income, thereby reducing the availability of PWLB finance for core local authority activities. The government has said that it recognises that Local Authorities have focused on responding to the COVID-19 crisis and therefore the consultation will now close at 11.59pm on 31 July 2020.

More details on the new care home support package backed by £600 million: A new £600 million Infection Control Fund will be given to local authorities to ensure care homes can continue to halt the spread of coronavirus by helping them cover the costs of implementing measures to reduce transmission. The fund is in addition to the £3.2 billion already allocated to local authorities but is ringfenced for social care. There is also now a template for local authorities to return by 29 May as part of local care home support planning.

Updated Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19: ‘PPN 02/20: Additional guidance, FAQs and model terms for construction’ has been updated. The document contains advice for contracting authorities in implementing PPN 02/20 in existing works contracts including options for supplier relief and includes a model deed of variation for construction contracts.

Government invests £35 million to protect critical freight routes: The Government has announced it is investing in freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies. 16 routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of COVID-19, will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to 9 weeks.

Guidance: informing DHSC of the death of a worker in social care: The Government has issued guidance for local authorities and social care providers, asking that they report to the Department of Health and Social Care about the death of an employee or volunteer in social care.

The Government's guidance to local authorities on prioritising waste collections has been updated to reflect changes to the rules on necessary journeys.

Coronavirus grant funding: local authority payments to small and medium businesses:Local authorities have received and distributed funding to support small and medium businesses in England during coronavirus – the data (updated as of 17 May 2020) can be viewed here. Latest figures also show millions of individuals and businesses are in receipt of Treasury coronavirus support schemes.

£5bn needed to stop local cuts say county councils: English councils have called on the government to provide a £5bn "income guarantee" to prevent local authorities from having to cut services. The County Councils Network has warned councils could lose £2.4bn as income from tax and business rates fall.


Wales to receive additional £64.5m as a result of transport funding in England: The UK Government has now provided over £2.2 billion in direct funding to Wales in order to manage the impact of COVID-19. The funding comes further to the announcement of an additional £35 million to tackle the coronavirus in Wales.

Unlocking our society and economy: Wales’ road map published: The First Minister is announcing a red, amber, green traffic light system to define how restrictions on different areas of Welsh life can begin to the eased.

Wales’ Economic Resilience Fund will not support tax avoiders: Businesses whose headquarters are based in a recognised ‘tax haven’ will not be eligible for COVID-19 financial support from the Welsh Government, ministers have announced.


Additional £58 million to help Scotland tackle coronavirus: The UK Government has announced an additional £58 million to help the devolved administration in Scotland respond to the challenge of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Household waste recycling centres 'to reopen next month': Household waste recycling centres are expected to reopen across Scotland on 1 June, according to the local government body COSLA. Councils have been reporting an increase in fly-tipping after the sites were closed in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coronavirus in Scotland: Government announces new powers to protect care home residents: The Scottish Government has announced new powers to protect care home residents during the coronavirus crisis and issued clinical and practice guidance to support those working in adult care homes in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: NI councils to get £20.3m of emergency funding: Northern Ireland's public transport network, Translink, is to get funding of £30m to address pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding comes as Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon also announces a series of green infrastructure initiatives to support recovery.

Latest legislation

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill published: The Bill introduces a number of measures to provide companies and other qualifying bodies with temporary easements on certain company filing obligations and requirements relating to AGMs and other meetings and to temporarily suspend parts of insolvency law to support directors in continuing to trade through the COVID-19 crisis.

View the government's latest guidance for local councils >

View more insights on our COVID-19 Hub > 

To view previous editions of the Public Sector COVID-19 Bulletin, please choose a date below:

Further Reading