The treasury is considering plans to give adults £500 and children £250 vouchers to spend in the sectors worst hit by coronavirus.
Resolution Foundation thinktank has drawn up the proposals and has been in talks with the treasury about its ideas that aim to kickstart the economy through highly targeted spending.
Under the plans, vouchers could be spent in specific sectors such as hospitality, and face to face retail rather than online shopping.
The scheme is similar to successful ones already in place in China, Taiwan and Malta. In Wuhan – where the COVID-19 outbreak is believed to have started – 500 million yuan (£57m) worth of consumption vouchers for use in restaurants, shopping malls, convenience stores, and cultural, sports and tourist venues were issued, the Guardian reports.
The treasury has refused to rule out introducing a similar scheme in the short or medium-term.
Resolution Foundation claims the proposed idea is more effective at jump-starting the economy than a temporary slash in VAT or on-off cash gifts to individuals, ideas which have been discussed by the government.
Economists explain that cash gifts will be stashed away into a savings account, particularly in higher-income households, rather than being put back into the economy through spending.
Similarly, a VAT cut will have less of an impact on lower-income households as they tend to spend more money on VAT exempt items, or reduced/zero-rated goods such as food and drink.
The thinktank explains that the scheme – if a one-year limit on spending the voucher is put in place – would cost the government £30bn. The proposed idea could be allocated via vouchers or smart cards and transactions carried out on mobile phones. The scheme could also be postponed or closed down in the event of second wave.
The hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit sectors, down more than 90% in April, and many industry experts fear it will continue to be badly hit due to social distancing measures.
James Smith, research director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Social distancing has huge implications for firms in sectors like retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure that will last into the reopening phase. That is why the jobs of so many workers in these sectors are in the firing line. The chancellor’s recovery package on Wednesday should reflect this unique economic challenge.
“As well as setting out the biggest ever peacetime job support programme, the chancellor should get Britain spending in places where it’s needed most. A universal high street voucher scheme to be spent only in these sectors would kickstart demand in the right parts of our economy, boost living standards and deliver targeted support to the businesses that need help the most.”
The chancellor is set to outline ‘the next stage in our plan to secure Britain’s recovery’ on Wednesday.
The next stage is expected to include the announcement of an extra £32m for a National Careers Service, to allow a quarter of a million more people benefit from expert career advise.
Labour has warned of ‘ghost towns’ developing across the country as the latest figures show 80,000 hospitality, leisure and retail businesses missed out on government grants.
Shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “Unless the government steps up to save the high street many will become ghost towns, with thousands laid off, as a result. Labour is calling on the government to have a back-to-work budget this week, with the focus on protecting and creating jobs.”
This comes with the news that 44% of businesses who have participated in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme reported they will have to lay off some, more or all of their furloughed staff when the scheme comes to a close at the end of October.
Updated list of everywhere you need a face mask from tomorrow under the new rules
Everything you need to know…
The new list of places where face coverings are being made compulsory was released last week, but the rule change comes into effect from tomorrow.
Last week Boris Johnson announced new updates to the coronavirus lockdown rules as the infection rates were rising across the country.
From August 8th, face masks are mandatory in a new list of settings where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is on top of the existing rules where you have to wear face coverings on transport and in shops.
These new rules will be enforceable by law from tomorrow (August 8th), Chronicle Live reports.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed face coverings are mandatory in these places:
- on public transport
- indoor transport hubs including airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals
- shops and supermarkets – places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire
- indoor shopping centres
- banks, building societies and post offices including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
And from tomorrow, the expanded list of places you need to wear a face covering is as follows:
- funeral directors
- bingo halls
- concert halls
- museums, galleries, indoor zoos, aquariums and visitor farms, as well as other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites
- nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers, unless it’s necessary to remove them for treatments
- public areas in hotels and hostels
- libraries and public reading rooms
- community centres
- social clubs
- tattoo and piercing parlours
- massage parlours
- indoor entertainment venues like funfairs, amusement arcades, and adventure activities such as laser quest, go-karting, escape rooms and heritage sites
- storage and distribution facilities
- auction houses
- premises which provide professional, legal or financial services
- places of worship
The government is also encouraging everyone to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where you can’t social distance and are likely to come into contact with people you don’t live with or are not in your bubble.
Coronavirus outbreak at Royal Mail sorting office in Manchester
A Royal Mail delivery office in Manchester has been hit by an outbreak of coronavirus, with 19 workers testing positive.
A mobile testing unit has been set up at the delivery office, and a programme of contact tracing has begun, according to the BBC.
The centre on Oldham Road remains open and staff are continuing to work as normal.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Following further positive tests for coronavirus at the Manchester Delivery Office, as a precautionary measure, we are working with Public Health England to provide tests for all of our staff from a mobile unit on site. An enhanced clean of the building has already been carried out.”
They continued: “We have put in place a range of preventive measures to protect both our customers and our colleagues. As well as encouraging good hand hygiene, standard ways of working have been revised to ensure that colleagues stay two metres apart at all times.”
The Director of Public Health for Manchester, David Regan, said partners ‘acted quickly’ to ‘contain and limit further potential spread’.
He said: “We have been testing staff – and have arranged for a mobile testing unit to go to the site for the rest of the week – and contact tracing is already underway.
“According to government guidance, the period of self-isolation for any contact is 14 days. We will be working with Royal Mail until that period of time has ended to ensure all the relevant action has been taken.
“At this stage everyone who has tested positive has been given specific advice to monitor their health.”
A spokesman for the CWU said the union was working with health and safety representatives on site, and expect all staff to be tested in three days.
Everything you can now be fined for in Greater Manchester under new stricter lockdown rules
The new laws are now in place.
Local coronavirus restrictions were tightened in the North from last Friday, but the new rules have now been turned into law.
Police can now take action against those who break the new rules, including asking people to disperse or issuing fines.
Fines start at £100 and halve to £50 if paid within the first 14 days. They’ll also double for repeat offences – so £200 if you’re caught a second time, £400 a third time, £800 a fourth, £1,600 a fifth and £3,200 for the sixth time you’re caught.
The restrictions are in place across Greater Manchester, as well as some areas of Lancashire such as Blackburn, and some areas of West Yorkshire such as Bradford.
Under the new restrictions you are advised to not:
- Socialise with people you do not live within indoor public venues such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues and any other visitor attractions
- Visit friends or family in care homes other than in exceptional circumstances
You can now be fined for:
- Meeting people you do not live with inside a private home or garden (excluding support bubbles)
- Visiting someone else’s home or garden even if they live outside the affected areas
- Meeting in groups of more than 30 people at once in an outdoor public space
Although the advice released on Friday regarding meeting friends and family remains the same, it does not appear in the legislation.
This means, according to the clarification released on Friday, you can meet outside a pub or restaurant in groups of no more than six, as long as that is no more than two households.
By law, your household is defined as only the people you live with.
If you have formed a support bubble (which must include a single adult household, i.e people who live alone or single parents with children under the age of 18), these can be treated as if they are members of your household and follow the new rules accordingly.
However, under the new guidance you can meet up in groups of no more than 30 people at a time in outdoor public spaces, including parks and public roads.
People in Greater Manchester, it appears, can still go on holiday, including staying in a hotel, bed and breakfast, caravan site or ‘members club’.
Greater Manchester Police has released a statement regarding the new rules. It states that they will be ‘building’ on the work put in place over the weekend which saw a Major Incident declared in Greater Manchester.
This means they are ‘monitoring the situation and will have additional resourcing in place in order to meet our overall aim of protecting our communities and keeping people safe’.
The police have said they will be continuing with their four E’s approach which sees communication and encouraging people to do the right thing first. However they do point out that if people continue to ignore the latest guidance, Fixed Penalty Notices can be issued.
It also states that every weekend police officers are being taken away from local neighbourhoods to prevent and police large gathers and ‘this is neither acceptable or sustainable.’ This comes after they had a 1,614% increase in calls related to either covid or house parties, street parties and gatherings.
The statement continues: “The message from Greater Manchester Police today is clear. People need to start taking these new restrictions more seriously; because if they don’t there is every possibility that we will see further restrictions. We want people to get behind us so that we can get through this, follow the guidance and protect the public – this will prevent us from having to take action.”
The announcement, which you can read here, finishes with a statement from Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling where he thanks those who are following the guidance and ‘doing their very best’.
He added: “We recognise that this hasn’t been easy, but we know that one day we’ll look back at this period of time with a huge sense of pride.”
The new legislation is set to be reviewed at least every fortnight, which means by August 19th.
You can read the full legislation here.