The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, has issued a statement providing explanation and detail of Government support in a number of areas including social care, private renting, rough sleeping and business.
Support for Social Care
Local authorities are already playing a vital role in supporting communities and the Government has announced an additional £1.6bn funding to support local authorities in responding to the COVID19 pandemic. This funding will help alleviate the pressures local authorities are facing across services.
This should enable them to do the following:
Meet the increased demand for adult social care and enable councils to provide additional support to social care providers;
CCGs will separately be funding additional costs of discharging and keeping people out of hospital, including social care costs – commissioned by the local authority unless existing local arrangements suggest otherwise;
Meet the extra demand and higher business-as-usual costs of providing children’s social care – including as a result of school closures and the increased need for accommodation to address the need for isolation, including for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children;
Provide additional support for the homeless and rough sleepers – including where self-isolation is needed;
Support those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – who may soon be asked to self-isolate in their homes for the duration of the pandemic;
Meet pressures across other service – as a result of reduced income, rising costs or increased demand. The grants will be paid upfront by Friday 3 April. In the first phase of the response, the grant will not be ringfenced, but we will continue to keep this under review. I would appreciate your continued support in working with us to understand pressures on local government in your constituencies.
Support for Councils on Business Rates
At the Budget the Chancellor announced that the government will increase the business rates retail discount to 100% for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 for one year – and expanded this to cover the leisure and hospitality sectors. This tax cut is worth over £1 billion, saving each business up to £25,000. On 17 March, this relief was extended by removing the £51,000 rateable value threshold – which means all eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will now pay no business rates at all in England for 12 months from 1 April. My Department has now published guidance to local authorities on the implementation of the expanded relief. Local authorities will be fully compensated for the loss of income associated with this expanded relief. While this expanded retail discount scheme will need approval to become a notified state aid, authorities should prepare to award on this basis and my Department will communicate the outcome to local authorities as soon as it is known.
On 18 March, the Chancellor also announced he would be providing this business rates holiday to nurseries. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020/21 from 1 April. Local authorities will also be fully compensated for the cost of this measure, and guidance for local authorities on the application of the holiday will be published by MHCLG shortly.
No renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.
We are bringing forward emergency legislation as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction. There will be a moratorium on all new evictions and clear guidance has been issued stating that existing eviction processes should be dealt with appropriately, prioritising the safety and health of citizens across the country.
To support this announcement the government has worked with the Master of the Rolls to widen the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings, to include private renters and to strengthen its remit. Recognising the additional pressures the virus may put on landlords, the Department has also confirmed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday announced previously will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus.
Support for Rough Sleepers
The Department has allocated £3.2 million of initial emergency funding to support rough sleepers if they need to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This funding will be available to all local authorities in England and will reimburse them for the cost of providing accommodation and services to those sleeping on the streets to help them successfully self-isolate.
Planning Rules for Pubs and Restaurants
The Department is relaxing planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak. These changes will provide flexibility to pubs and restaurants and ensure people are able to safely stay at home, while supporting some of the great local businesses across the country.