National developments this week (1 – 8 October)

Government’s response to Covid-19

  • Meeting with others safely – updated guidance (7 October) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing
    • The Government has updated the guidance on meeting with others safely.
    • When seeing friends and family they do not live with people must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors, (in England, this limit of 6 includes children of any age). This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £6,400.
    • There are exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people., including: for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services; registered childcare, education or training; supervised activities provided for children; providing support to a vulnerable person; providing emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm; for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents; fulfilling a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service; elite sporting competition and training; wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions (up to 15 people); funerals (up to 30 people) – this does not include wakes, other than for religious ceremonial purposes; exercise classes, organised outdoor sport or licensed outdoor physical activity, and supervised sporting activity (indoors or outdoors) for under-18s; indoor organised team sports for disabled people; support groups of up to 15 participants; protests organised in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Health and Care

Enforcement

  • Funding for enforcement (8 October) https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-enforcement-boosted-with-60-million-surge-funding
    • The Government is making £60 million available to help the police and councils enforce coronavirus laws. £30 million will be for police forces across England and Wales, and councils will also receive £30 million. Calderdale is being allocated £119,682.
    • New guidance has been published outlining the types of compliance and enforcement activities councils could carry out using the £30 million funding. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-local-authority-compliance-and-enforcement-grant/guidance-to-support-local-authority-compliance-and-enforcement-activity-including-covid-19-secure-marshals-or-equivalents
    • This includes covering costs associated with stepping up enforcement activity, measures to help the public and businesses to understand the latest regulations and funding the cost of dedicated staff to encourage compliance with the rules, including marshals.
    • Marshals, or stewards and ambassadors as they are referred to in some areas, have already been rolled out successfully by many councils to help businesses and communities to follow the latest guidelines, freeing up the police and other enforcement officers such as environmental health officers. They do not carry out an enforcement role, which continues to be the role of the police and designated local council enforcement officers. Instead they can work with local businesses on queue management, direct pedestrians and support social distancing in busy public areas, remind members of the public to wear a face covering where it’s required and help with the regular cleaning of touch points.
    • The funding provided to the Police is only for use in relation to coronavirus enforcement. Forces will be required to provide the Home Office with enforcement plans to demonstrate how the money is being used to tackle non-compliance with public health rules.

Children and Education

  • Remote education provision in primary and secondary schools (1 October) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/remote-education-temporary-continuity-direction-explanatory-note
    • The Secretary of State for Education has issued a continuity direction that requires schools to provide remote education for state-funded, school-age children unable to attend school due to coronavirus.
    • Schools are expected to consider how to continue to improve the quality of their existing curriculum, for example through technology, and have a strong contingency plan in place for remote education.

 

Non-Covid Developments

  • Consultation – Local air quality management: public authorities (5 October) https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/local-air-quality-management-public-authorities-call-for-evidence
    • Under the new approach, the Environment Secretary will have the power to designate Air Quality Partners which have some responsibility for sources of local pollution (such as a specific stretch of road or site that emits pollution). Air Quality Partners will be required to assist in developing and implementing an action plan to cut the pollution output.
    • The call for evidence asks for views as to which public authorities should be designated. A public authority may be relevant for designation where:
      • It carries out duties of a public nature
      • It is responsible for a source of local air pollution
      • It is able to take certain actions to reduce local concentrations of pollution
    • The consultation closes on 18 January 2021.
  • Good binfrastructure – the provision of litter disposal infrastructure (2 October) https://wrap.org.uk/content/binfrastructure-right-bin-right-place
    • This guide for councils and Business Improvement Districts in England sets out a recommended approach to binfrastructure, with regard to the design, number and location of public litter bins and other items of street furniture designed to capture litter.
    • A capital grant scheme for the purchase of litter bins, open to councils, is expected to be launched later this year. Applicants for this grant will be expected to have an existing litter strategy in place.
  • All-Party Parliamentary Group inquiry on Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention (September) https://media.samaritans.org/documents/APPG_inquiry_full_report.pdf
    • This inquiry explored the experiences of young people who self-harm in accessing support services.
    • In particular, it examined: support services currently available in both clinical and the wider community settings (including schools); plans for improving and expanding this support; and the changes needed to ensure that support is made more effective and widely available. It concludes that young people who self-harm are often made to wait until they reach crisis point before receiving support.
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