Schools and exams
From tomorrow all state schools will close until further notice. Children of key workers and the most vulnerable will be allowed to attend school, although they may have to go to a different school to the one they normally attend. These children will be looked after by a skeleton staff. This essential step has been taken following advice from the Government’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor in a bid to control the coronavirus, which is spreading faster than predicted in the UK. Pupils from low income families who are entitled to school means will be given food vouchers to ensure they get a decent meal every day.
Of course this means that there is now uncertainty over school and public exams such as A’levels and GCSE’s. A further announcement will be made on Friday but the Prime Minister has made it clear that the children caught up in this disruption will not be ‘impeded’ and will get their qualifications ‘in time’.
Emergency legislation is being introduced to ensure that people renting in private or social accommodation will not have to worry about eviction for at least three months. The three month mortgage payment holiday announced by the Chancellor will be extended to landlords who have buy to let mortgages and whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. This will alleviate pressure on both landlords and tenants.
Businesses who qualify for the government business rates grant scheme announced this week will receive the funds from either Hambleton, Ryedale or Scarborough Council depending where you are based. The local authorities will be writing to you with more information.
As a reminder this includes:
• All businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, irrespective of their rateable value, are exempt from business rates for 12 months which will include every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant, and any other business in these categories. Any business in these sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can now get access to a government grant scheme of £25,000.
• All businesses in any sector who currently qualify for the Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) will get a cash grant of £10,000
• Liquidity support for large companies, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England.
• Lending support for small and medium-sized businesses by extending the Business Interruption Loan Scheme which was announced in the Budget. This means that, rather than providing loans of £1.2 million, it will provide loans of up to £5 million, with no interest for the first six months.
• HMRC have a Time to Pay scheme to provide flexibility for payments of VAT/PAYE etc. Please do take advantage of this and let us know if they are not helping.
You should contact your bank for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme and your district council for the business rate grants.
Testing for coronavirus
The Government is increasing its testing capacity to 25,000 patients a day. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary have promised industry leaders that they would be given whatever support they need to help government increase testing capabilities across the country. The increased capacity is expected to be ready within 4 weeks, with highest-priority cases will be tested first.
Another test is being developed and is expected to be available soon to find out who has had the virus, possibly without realising it. This will make it much easier to allocate virus free support workers within the NHS and the community to where they are most needed.
It’s heartening to hear stories of how the community is pulling together to support each other. It’s important that the elderly and the vulnerable are not isolated in this difficult time so I would urge you all to look after your family and neighbours around you. There will be many local groups and charities who are unable to hold events because of the virus and these groups are making themselves available to support those most in need in the community. I would urge you to contact them if you think there are people who need support.