Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
UK Ended All COVID-19 Restrictions
Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 is no longer legally bound to self-isolate, as all remaining COVID-19 restrictions come to an end for England last week. Masks will still be required in shops, health and care facilities, and public transport. If cases continue to decline, it is hoped all mask rules will be lifted by the end of March.
UK-NZ Free Trade Deal
The UK and New Zealand have signed a free trade deal. This would boost bilateral trade by 60% by eliminating tariffs, cutting red tape, and enabling freer movement of professional workers.
Support for Bus and Light Rail Services
The government will provide over £150 million to help local transport authorities and operators run services. This is the final COVID-19 support package that the government will provide to the sector, and should fund bus operators and local authorities responsible for bus and light rail services from April to October.
Get Ready for £150 Council Tax Rebate
Households across England are being urged to set up direct debits with their local council to receive a £150 council tax rebate that will help millions of families manage costs of living. Around 20 million households in council tax bands A to D – including 95% of rented properties – are set to benefit from the £3 billion council tax rebate, which doesn’t have to be repaid.
Wales: £330 Million Package for Cost-of-Living Crisis
The Welsh Government has announced a £330 million package aimed to support people in overcoming the cost-of-living crisis. This includes a £150 cost-of-living payment to be paid as soon as possible and an extra £200 for low-income households through the Winter Fuel Payment next winter.
£350 Government Support to Help with Energy Costs
The Energy Bills Rebate will provide around 28 million households with an upfront discount on their bills worth £200 from October. Households in England, which are in council tax bands A-D, will also receive a £150 rebate from April.
This £9.1 billion government support is intended to help with the cost of living after the increase in energy costs.
Lump Sum Exit Scheme Support for Farmers
Farmers who wish to leave the industry will be supported by a new Government scheme that provides a lump sum payment, allowing them to exit the sector in a managed way. In exchange for their payment, farmers will surrender their entitlements and be expected to either rent or sell their land or surrender their tenancy, in order to create opportunities for new entrants and farmers wishing to expand their businesses.
The Lump Sum Exit Scheme, where farmers could receive up to around £100,000, is due to open in April and the application period will run until the end of September.
Over £700 Million New Grant Fund for Businesses Impacted by Omicron
Businesses in England most impacted by the Omicron variant will be able to tap into a new £700 million support package in the coming weeks.
Firms in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors will be able to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises depending on rateable value. In addition, more than £100 million worth of discretionary funding is also being made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
£1 Billion Support for UK Businesses Impacted by Omicron
The government is providing one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England. More than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
The government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK. To enable more cultural organisations to apply for support during the winter, further funding amounting to £30 million will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund.
Deadline Extension for Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Scheme
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirmed that it is proposing a 12-month extension to the non-domestic RHI’s application deadline, moving the date from 31 March 2022 to 31 March 2023.
Also set to be extended are the second and third allocations of the scheme’s tariff guarantee, which will allow organisations to secure a fixed tariff before their installation is commissioned and accredited.
Cold Weather Payment Scheme
From 1 November 2021, households have become eligible for the Cold Weather Payment scheme which involves a weekly reduction on their energy bills.
You can receive this payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days. Eligible individuals will get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November 1 and 31 March 2022.
£500 Million Plan for Jobs Expansion
Workers leaving the furlough scheme and unemployed individuals over 50 years old will be supported back into work as part of more than £500m expansion of the government’s Plan for Jobs. People earning the lowest wages will also benefit and existing schemes targeting young people will be extended into next year as part of the new package.
Starting in April 2022, the Government is enhancing its programme of support for workers on Universal Credit.
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