4. NATIONAL RESPONSE UPDATE
4.1 New Government Action Plan for Social Care
Following strong criticism of the Government’s handling of Covid-19 in care homes and the poor safety of care workers, a new action plan for Social Care was published by the Government yesterday.
The key points are:
The full action plan can be read here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/879639/covid-19-adult-social-care-action-plan.pdf
- All symptomatic patients in care homes will be tested for COVID-19
- Any resident being discharged from hospital will be tested for the virus before returning to their care home
- A roll out of testing for social care workers across the country
- No blanket Do Not Attempt Resuscitation orders to be applied
- Family visits allowed at the end of life
4.2 Advice from Cancer Research
Cancer Research UK are continuing to help those living with cancer during this crisis. They have created a web guide with the latest information and links so people can keep up to date with caring for themselves and others: https://about-cancer.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/coronavirus-and-cancer
4.3 Ofqual launch consultation on grading student qualifications
Ofqual are seeking views on a number of features of the exceptional arrangements for awarding GCSEs, AS levels, A levels, Extended Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award in 2020. You can take part in their public consultation online before their deadline of 11:45pm on 29 April 2020.
For more information click here, and take part in the online consultation click here.
4.4 New babies and registering for Child Benefit
Child Benefit can now be claimed without registering a birth until the registry offices can be safely reopened. This means new parents won’t miss out at this crucial time.
If parents are claiming for their first child, they can fill in the Child Benefit claim form CH2 and send it to the Child Benefit Office. The form is here:
4.5 Furloughed or income reduced? You may now be eligible for Child Benefit
If you’ve been made redundant, or put on furlough, and your salary has subsequently dropped, you may now be entitled to claim child benefit.
If you’ve already registered (and opted out) for the benefit previously, you will simply need to call the child benefit helpline on 0300 200 3100 and ask to now opt-in – make sure you have your National Insurance number to hand. For those new to claiming it’s just one simple form to fill out.
4.6 Employees on furlough – eligibility date extended
When the furlough scheme was first announced, individuals had to be employed by the firm furloughing them on 28 February 2020, but the Government has now extended the eligibility date to 19 March – the day before the scheme was announced. This could extend the scheme to an additional 10,000 more employees.
Initially the government said that in order to be furloughed by your employer, anyone starting a new job as an employee, had to be on the payroll on or before the 19 March 2020. This caused problems for new employees whose companies ran the March payroll after the 19 March. The government has slightly amended its new guidance, to clarify that a notification that an employee was going to be added to the payroll by 19 March is sufficient (so long as that notification was done via an RTI-submission notifying a PAYE payment).
If an employer is considering rehiring a former employee in order to furlough them, the cut-off date remains 28 February, so employees will need to have been on the payroll at that point.
This may help a few more people but it is certainly not enough to help all those who started new jobs around this time. Our MP’s will continue to press the Government but meanwhile the latest details on the scheme can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
4.7 Carry over unused annual leave by up to two years due to COVID-19
Due to the current lockdown, changes in working circumstances and restrictions on travel, employees might not be able to use their full allowance before it expires. The Government has now confirmed that all workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.
More information here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19
4.8 Self-Employed? Important tax deadline on 23rd Apr
If you are Self-Employed and obtaining support via the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), you must have filed a tax return for 2018/19 by 23 April 2020 to do so. This means you must have been self-employed prior to 6 April 2019. If you were due to file a 2018/19 tax return but missed the deadline this year, you'll have until Thursday 23 April to submit your tax return and then you can still access the scheme. However, if you only have a few months' self-employment on your 2018/19 return, this will be counted as your total profit for the year – the Government won't pro-rata it based on your monthly profits.
More info on the scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
4.9 Creative Industries Support
As covered in the Guardian this week our spokesperson for digital, culture, media and sport, Daisy Cooper MP, coordinated a letter calling on the Government to act now to support the creative industries. Signed by 130+ MPs & peers - including big-hitters from the world of television and theatre – asking for support for the freelancers, agency workers and self-employed company directors, who don’t benefit from government loans or grants. We will need our fast growing creative industries sector to boost our economy in the post-COVID19 recovery, and to help our communities to heal.
More information on that can be found here https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/apr/14/over-100-mps-and-peers-in-call-to-back-creative-industries-in-coronavirus-lockdown
Meanwhile the BFI and The Film and TV Charity have partnered to create a new industry-backed COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund, established with a £1million donation from Netflix to help support the creative community, which like many industries, has been devastated by the pandemic.
For more information on the fund click here: https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/announcements/covid-19-film-tv-emergency-relief-fund
To be the first to hear when the fund launches and about eligibility, applicants should register for the charity’s mailing lists here.
Those in immediate and urgent need should apply for support via The Film and TV Charity’s existing hardship fund, offering grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. This hardship fund will sit alongside the new Film and TV COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Click here for details on eligibility and how to apply.
The Film and TV Charity also provides 24/7 mental health support to the industry, including counselling and legal advice. This can be obtained via the Film and TV Support Line on 0800 054 00 00.
4.10 Cancelled Flight and Holiday advice
With Government imposed restrictions on travel thousands of flights and holidays have now been cancelled with even more set to be in the coming weeks. Money Saving Expert have provided a guide on what you should do if your flight or holiday is cancelled, including your rights to a refund or travel voucher, and what options you have should your provider refuse to provide you with a refund.
More information here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/02/coronavirus-travel-help-and-your-rights/#booked
4.11 Resources for Families
Free official Harry Potter fun for kids (or yourself)
JK Rowling, author of the mega-popular Harry Potter books, has launched Harry Potter at Home, a selection of online activities and resources to amuse kids who "might need a bit of magic" during the lockdown.
For those who have read the books, activities include a video on how to draw a 'Niffler' (a mischievous animal from the wizarding world), as well as Harry Potter-themed puzzles and quizzes. And if you haven't read the books yet, this could be a great way to introduce them with some handy articles to help get them started, eg, 10 words you need to know when reading the first Harry Potter book.
ITV is calling on the nation’s kids to stay creative whilst at home during the Covid-19 crisis by submitting their artwork for a chance for it to be broadcast. Each child whose work is shown will be credited on screen. Parents and guardians can submit a picture of the child’s artwork via Twitter or Instagram using #ITVKidsCreate and @itv and as many creations as possible will be broadcast. More info here: https://www.itv.com/itvcreates/articles/itv-kids-create
Eat Farm Now – education resources
Eat Farm Now is a new website about the stories behind food – straight from people in the world’s fields, barns, plantations, kitchens and markets. It includes podcasts, blogs and videos created by farmers, chefs, journalists, foodies, and community groups all in one place. It includes resources for schools and parents to use during these times of remote learning: https://eatfarmnow.com/
Film resources for home schooling
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has developed resources for families to discuss issues and emotions behind films. It says: “Film is a great medium to start getting your children thinking critically, as well as giving them an understanding of how what we watch affects us and the people around us. So even if your little one isn’t studying to be the next Speilberg, Hitchcock or Bigelow, it can be a useful teaching tool. We have rounded up a selection of films for children and teens of all ages, some which feature on the film studies curriculum, along with relevant case studies, resources and discussion point.” https://www.bbfc.co.uk/Films-and-resources-for-discussion-and-home-schooling