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Kids with asthma might not have to go back to school, expert says

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Asthma UK has warned parents who have children with asthma to contact their GP if they have concerns about sending them back to school on June 1st. 

People with asthma are classed among the clinically vulnerable with regards to coronavirus, but asthma does not make you more likely to catch the virus – although the symptoms can be worse if you do catch it.

As schools begin to reopen as part of the lockdown easing process introduced by the government, many parents who have children with asthma are concerned about their child’s safety.

Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s clinical lead and a practising GP, said: “Going back to school after a long break is usually an exciting time for children. Understandably, we’ve heard that parents of children with asthma are more concerned this time round.

“The best thing you can do for your child, whether they’re in school or at home, is to make sure their asthma is managed well.”

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He added: “If you are worried about your child’s asthma, contact their GP, who will be able to advise whether their condition is under control before they return to school.”

The Asthma UK website states: “if you have concerns about your child’s return to school, contact your GP, who will be able to assess whether their asthma is well-controlled”.

If your child is shielding you should not send them back to school – people who are shielding are classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, and will have been told to shield by their GP.

If your child is not shielding but someone in your household is, your child should not return to school until they are able to maintain a stringent social distance from the person that is shielding.

Although having asthma does not make an individual more prone to catching coronavirus, long-term lung conditions can cause the symptoms of coronavirus to be more severe.

The Asthma UK site offers advice to parents, saying that ‘there are things you can do now’ whether your child is returning to school in June or September. 

This advice includes getting into a good routine, taking preventer medicines regularly, attending asthma reviews and having an up to date asthma action plan. 

Credit: CDC / Unsplash

Your asthma review may have been postponed due to COVID-19, however, so the site says to get in touch with your GP surgery to rearrange an appointment over the phone.

If you need an urgent appointment with a GP or asthma nurse as your child is using their reliever inhaler three or more times a week, coughing or wheezing at night or feeling out of breath, you should do so. 

The site also advises parents to find out who will be working with your child at school as this may have changed due to COVID-19, and to make sure they are aware of your child’s symptoms and have a copy of their asthma action plan.

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As schools begin to reopen the new protocol will be smaller classes with no more than 15 pupils, a bigger emphasis on hand washing and school-specific social distancing measures.

Asthma UK urges parents to keep an eye out for communication from your school and to contact them if you have further questions. 

The government has also said that children and teachers do not need to wear a face mask in school, but people should wear non-surgical face coverings when it is not possible to socially distance, such as on public transport. A face mask may also make breathing harder for people with asthma, so you might not wear one if this is this case for you or your child.

You can read the full release from Asthma UK here.  

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People on working tax credits will get a £500 one-off payment, Rishi Sunak confirms

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Brits on tax credits get a one-off benefits payment of £500, Rishi Sunak reveals in budget. 

Outlined in the budget, Sunak explained that a £20 weekly increase in universal credit will extend for a further six months.

The chancellor explains that by the way Working Tax Credits system works people will not be able to receive the extra £20 weekly. 

Instead, people will benefit from a £500 one-off payment.

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Mr Sunak said: “To support low-income households, the Universal Credit uplift of £20 a week will continue for a further six months, well beyond the end of this national lockdown

“We’ll provide Working Tax Credit claimants with equivalent support for the next six months.

“Because of the way that system works operationally, we’ll need to do so with a one-off payment of £500.”

The £500 tax credit boost will run in the same way that the Universal Credit is paid – automatically. 

Lots of people have switched from the old ‘Tax Credit’ to the new ‘Universal Credit’ system. Anyone who hasn’t yet been transferred across will now be eligible for this new one-off payment. 

The number of people claiming universal credit in the UK has doubled since the start of the pandemic, reaching 6 million people at the start of this year. 

The extra benefit support is welcomed but many are raising concerns that six months is not long enough.

Sunak also revealed in today’s budget that furlough will be extended until September but employers will have to pay 10% of the employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September. 

You can see a round-up of all the key points from the budget here

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What Rishi Sunak’s new budget means for people in Greater Manchester

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Rishi Sunak has said he wants to be honest about the government’s plans for fixing the public finances.

The chancellor says there has been ‘acute damage’ to the economy, with more than 700,000 people losing jobs and the economy shrinking by 10% – the largest fall in 300 years.

Borrowing has also been as high as during wartime.

He said: “It’s going to take this country, and the whole world, a long time to recover from this extraordinary situation.”

Here are the key points from his 2021 budget announcement….

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Furlough

  • Sunak explains that 1.8 million fewer people are expected to be out of work than previously thought, with the peak at 6.5% down from the forecasted peak of 11.9%.
  • Furlough is set to be extended until the end of September this year, however, firms will be asked to contribute 10% of employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September as the scheme is gradually phased out.
  • A fourth grant worth 80% of average trading profits up to £7,500 covering February to April that will help self-employed people.
  • The £20 increase in universal credit will extend for six months

Business Support

  • Total cash support to businesses has reached £25bn. A further £5bn restart grant has now been confirmed to help companies get going after lockdown.
  • Hospitality and leisure businesses will pay no business rates for three months, then discounted for the remaining nine months of the year by two-thirds.
  • The 5% VAT cut will be extended to the end of September and gradually increased at 12.5% for six months before returning to the normal rate in April 2022.

David Dixon/Geograph

Housing

  • The stamp duty holiday will be extended on properties up to £500,000 to the end of June. It will return to normal levels from October 1st.
  • Mortgage guarantees were also confirmed to help first-time buyers access 95% mortgages, with just 5% deposits.

Public Finances

  • The government will take a ‘fair’ approach to ‘fixing the public finances’ the chancellor confirms.
  • There will be no increase in national insurance, income tax or VAT.
  • The personal allowance will remain at £12,750 until 2026 and the higher rate will increase to £50,270 next year.
  • Inheritance tax threshold, pensions lifetime allowance, annual exempt allowance from capital gains tax and VAT exemption thresholds will all be frozen.
  • New minimum wage rates come into force in England on April 1st. Basic rate workers will see a 2.2% increase, with the National Living Wage rising to £8.91 an hour.

David Dixon/Geograph

Borrowing

  • The budget deficit will reach £355billion this year (17% of GDP) – the highest level in peacetime.
  • Sunak said: “It’s going to be the work of many governments over many decades to pay it back, just as it would be irresponsible to withdraw support too soon, it would also be irresponsible to allow our future borrowing and debt to rise unchecked.”

Growth

  • The chancellor explains that the economy will recover more quickly than previously thought.
  • GDP will grow by 4% this year and 7.3% next year according to official forecasts.

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Contactless payment limit set to increase to £100

It’s hoped this will provide a much-needed boost to the retail sector

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Rishi Sunak is set to announce in the budget today an increase in contactless payment limit up to £100.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the contactless limit was increased from £30 to £45 and it is hoped this second increase will provide a much-needed boost to the retail sector.

Some industry sources have expressed alarm at the new threshold, warning of the potential increase in fraud, according to Sky News.

The increase in the limit was made possible due to Brexit. The European Commission set the limit to €50.

Number 10/Flickr

Sunak is expected to highlight the important of ‘pinging’ payments as shoppers continue to rely less on cash. 

Speaking to the Evening Standard, he said: “London’s retail sector is famous across the world, with Oxford Street, Covent Garden and Westfield seen as global destinations for shopping.

“As we begin to open the UK economy and people return to the high street, the contactless limit increase will make it easier than ever before for people to pay for their shopping, providing a welcome boost to retail that will protect jobs and drive growth across the capital.”

The chancellor is set to unveil the budget at 12:30pm today. He is expected to offer more information on the mortgage scheme that will offer 5% deposit as well as extending the stamp duty holiday and increase corporation tax from 19% to 23%.

Sunak is also set to announce the extension of furlough until September and information on a £5bn scheme to help firms such as shops, clubs and gyms.

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