The Welsh government welcomed the chancellor’s job support scheme but says it falls short on much needed training investment and measures to help job creation.
Finance minister Rebecca Evans also expressed her disappointment at the lack of extra support for some of Wales’ hardest hit sectors, such as steel and aerospace. Evans said:
After pressing for further wage subsidy support, I welcome the job support scheme but I am concerned that it is not coupled with new training investment that will be essential to protecting livelihoods in the long term.
Whilst the eleventh hour measures announced by the chancellor today prevents the worst consequences of a furlough cliff edge, more needs to be done to help unemployed workers find new jobs and incentivise employers to hire new workers. For some workers this announcement is simply too late.
Public Health England has posted this on Twitter because the coronavirus dashboard is having technical problems.
Public Health England
The COVID-19 dashboard is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We can confirm that:
6,634 new positive cases have been recorded on Thursday 24 September, giving a total of 416,363.
40 new deaths have been reported across the UK, giving a total of 41,902.
September 24, 2020
Supermarket chain Morrisons has introduced limits on certain items today, after seeing a jump in demand following the introduction of tighter Covid-19 rules.
The move includes toilet roll and disinfectant. The supermarket chain says it had introduced a purchase limit of three on a small range of products to ensure they were “available for everyone”.
The move echoes the beginning of the first wave of Covid-19 in the UK, when supermarkets were forced to impose restrictions on purchases because of people stockpiling.
New research suggests that only around one person in five with coronavirus symptoms has been properly self-isolating.
The figure is included in this paper (pdf) written by a team of academics, headed by Louise Smith from King’s College London. They have been surveying people since March and, in the period until early August, they found that only 18.2% of people reporting Covid symptoms in the previous seven days had not left home. That was despite the fact that most people said they would stay at home in those circumstances.
% of people with Covid symptoms who are self-isolating Photograph: Smith
The research also found that only 11.9% of people with Covid symptoms had been requesting a test.
% of people with symptoms requesting a test Photograph: Smith
The paper is a pre-print, which means it has not been peer reviewed yet. (Academics used to wait until their research had been peer reviewed before they published it, but because of the public interest in learning about coronavirus, Covid pre-prints are now appearing regularly.) The data is also several weeks old, just going up to early August. But in total more than 30,000 people were surveyed and the data suggests behaviour has not changed much over time.
The findings match similar research that has been peer reviewed.
Commenting on the paper, these are from Billy Quilty, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Worrying new preprint from @louisesmith142 et al. finds just 18% of persons with COVID symptoms adhere to self-isolation, and only 11% adhere to quarantine if contacted by test and trace: https://t.co/tjoRG9x6OO
September 24, 2020
Really reinforces the need for clear public health messaging, as well as for practical and financial support for isolating/quarantining persons.
September 24, 2020
at 5.54pm BST
Record UK Covid case numbers ‘stark warning for us all’, says Public Health England
Commenting on the new coronavirus case figures, Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said:
This is the highest number recorded and a stark warning for us all. The signals are clear. Positivity rates are rising across all age groups and we’re continuing to see spikes in rates of admission to hospital and critical care.
We must all follow the new measures that have been bought in to help control the virus and download the new NHS Covid-19 App which is the fastest way of knowing when you’re at risk.
Yvonne Doyle at a No 10 press conference in April Photograph: Pippa Fowles/DOWNING STREET/EPA
UK records 6,634 new coronavirus cases – highest daily total on record
The UK has recorded 6,634 new coronavirus cases, according to the latest data on the government’s coronavirus dashboard.
That is an increase from 6,178 yesterday and the highest daily total on record.
However, that does not mean that the incidence of coronavirus in the UK is as higher, or higher, as it was when case numbers last peaked in the spring. At that point relatively few tests were being carried out. Far more tests are being carried out every day and and so a much higher proportion of positive cases are being picked up.
The dashboard also shows that a further 40 people have died from coronavirus in the UK.
at 5.45pm BST
Denmark, Slovakia and Iceland removed from travel corridor list, meaning quarantine rules will apply
Denmark, Slovakia, Iceland and the Caribbean island of Curacao are being removed from the UK’s travel corridor list, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has announced. That means travellers arriving in England from those countries after 4am on Saturday will have to go into quarantine.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Data shows we need to remove DENMARK, SLOVAKIA, ICELAND, and CURACAO from the Travel Corridor list. If you arrive in the UK from these destinations after 4am this Saturday, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days. [1/3]
September 24, 2020
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
We will not be adding any destinations to the Travel Corridor list this week. Remember: You MUST complete a Passenger Locator Form by law if you enter the UK. This protects public health and ensures those who need to are complying with self-isolation rules. [2/3]
September 24, 2020
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Also please don’t forget that you MUST self-isolate (quarantine) when returning from a non-exempt country, or face fines which start at £1,000. Visit: https://t.co/wQuays1qsN [3/3]
September 24, 2020
at 5.29pm BST
Tens of thousands of care home staff and residents waiting more than three days for test results, figures show
Tens of thousands of care home staff and residents are waiting for longer than three days to get coronavirus test results, missing a key government target, official figures show.
Care home managers have raised concerns that the long delays risk leading to more infections among vulnerable residents because potentially infected staff who do not have symptoms will continue working until they receive their result.
Government figures released on Thursday showed that nearly three quarters (72.5%) of so-called satellite tests, the vast majority of which are carried out in care homes, have taken longer than 72 hours to return a result since the government rolled out weekly testing to care homes at the start of September.
Of the 734,725 tests taken between 3 and 16 September, 532,799 took more than three days to produce a result. More than 32,000 tests did not produce a result at all.
While some tests will have been carried out on the same person, the delays mean tens of thousands of care home staff or residents will have been waiting longer than the government’s target of 72 hours for a result.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has told care home operators that it aimed for all tests in those facilities to return a result within three days. In the latest weekly test and trace report published on Thursday, it said there may be delays because some care homes will carry out tests over multiple days for them to be collected a few days later.
Delays in results are thought to be caused by capacity issues at testing facilities, and the government has promised to boost capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of next month.
at 5.17pm BST
Scottish government says Sunak’s job support scheme ‘disappointing’ and doesn’t go far enough
Scotland’s finance minister Kate Forbes says that Rishi Sunak’s jobs package doesn’t go far enough or provide sufficient clarity for the over 217,000 Scots still on furlough. In a statement Forbes said it was “disappointing that these changes don’t take into account our current reality of local lockdowns, with no apparent flexibility to support local or national restrictions, or those sectors, like the events sector, that have not yet been able to reopen”.
As I have stressed before, we have responded to Covid-19 without the fiscal levers we require. Not only is the UK government denying us the appropriate financial powers needed to fully respond to the pandemic, it has also removed any clarity about how much funding we will receive by deciding to scrap this autumn’s UK budget.
Rishi Sunak’s scaled-back job support scheme will ‘pull the rug’ from under so-called ‘zombie companies’ who have been limping along through the pandemic.
So warns Gareth Prince, partner at accountancy firm Begbies Traynor.
That’s because the structure of the subsidy scheme means an employee must still pay more than half a staff member’s wages, even if they only do 33% of their contracted hours [because the employer also pays a third of the unworked hours].
“Amid difficult circumstances, the Chancellor was under pressure to bridge the gap and avoid a cliff edge once the furlough scheme ends. On the face of it, this new package of measures provides a helping hand to get people back into the workplace on reduced hours. However, the lion’s share of responsibility now shifts to the employer who will have to find 55% of an employee’s pay for working just one third of their usual hours.
“The proposals are clearly designed to support viable jobs and businesses, but will pull the rug from under so-called ‘zombie’ companies. It remains to be seen if it is enough to safeguard viable jobs and stem the tide of inevitable redundancies.
Experts have warned young people must be made aware that while they have a low risk of dying from Covid-19, it can leave them with persistent symptoms that can affect their ability to work and live life to the full, potentially for months.
Speaking at an online meeting of the Royal Society of Medicine, Carolyn Chew-Graham, GP principal in Central Manchester and professor of general practice research at Keele University, said it was crucial that GPs had a way of recording so-called “long Covid”, noting at present it was difficult to assess how many people were experiencing ongoing symptoms.
Dr Alastair Miller, deputy medical director at the joint Royal Colleges of Physicians training board, said the main reason for Covid testing was for infection control and scientific studies.
However Dr Nisreen Alwan, associate professor in public health at the University of Southampton who is herself living with ongoing effects of Covid, said testing was crucial to patients themselves in the absence of a clinical definition of long Covid. She said:
Testing is everything for people suffering with long Covid because they have some sort of solid evidence ‘there is something wrong with me and it is not all in my head, and I am feeling these symptoms and I need investigations, and I need care.’
at 4.33pm BST
This chart, from Capital Economics, shows neatly how the UK’s new wage support scheme will cost the Treasury rather less than the furlough scheme, and put more of the burden on companies.
Photograph: Capital Economics
Matthew Wort, partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors, says the new scheme will best suit companies who are still running at close to capacity.
Businesses still effectively have to cover 55% of employment costs for potentially only a third of work being completed. As a result, the scheme is most likely to be used where there has only been a small drop off in work.
For example, an employee who returns to work on 70% of normal hours would only lost 10% of their pay [they’d get 70% of their wages as normal, with the government and their employees picking up 10% each, and 10% (the remaining third of the shortfall) lost].
Credit rating agency Moody’s has warned that more UK households will miss mortgage payments in the coming months.
Greg O’Reilly, vice president at Moody’s, points out that the UK’s mortgage payment holiday ends on 31 October – just as the new wage subsidy scheme begins.
“The replacement of the furlough scheme with the emergency job scheme will lead to an increase in missed mortgage payments because it will benefit fewer people,”
“Around 10% of securitised prime mortgages were under payment moratorium based on monthly transaction data received in August. So far, maturing payment moratoriums have not resulted in any significant levels of arrears, but this pattern is likely to change starting from end of October, when borrowers will no longer be able to request further payment holidays at the same time that fewer will be eligible for employment support.“
at 3.54pm BST
While Rishi Sunak was holding his press conference, the governor of the Bank of England was welcoming today’s measures.
Reuters has the details:
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Thursday he strongly welcomed new, scaled-back support for jobs announced by finance minister Rishi Sunak.
“I welcome today that once again we’ve seen that action,” Bailey told an online audience from the North East England Chamber of Commerce.
But Bailey also warned that the fast pattern of recovery seen over the summer probably won’t continue in the same way, Reuters adds.
at 3.49pm BST