Rural Related Politics - An RSN weekly review

1 June 2020

Below is an RSN review of last week's rural related politics as well as a look forward to the week ahead:


Last week in politics 
(25 May - 31 May)

On Tuesday 26th May, Baroness Berridge (Con) answered Lord Watson of Invergowrie’s (Lab) question asking what plans there are to redefine the role of regional schools commissioners during the period of school closures in the COVID-19 pandemic. Baroness Berridge said virtual Regional Education and Children’s (REACT) teams within the Department for Education and from Ofsted have been bringing together a range of departmental policy and operational interests, in order to provide an interface with local authorities acting in their capacity as local coordinators of the emergency response.

On Wednesday 27th May, Lord Greenhalgh (Con) answered Baroness Doocey (LibDem)’s question on what targeted, additional support the Government is making available to businesses in seaside towns during and beyond the lockdown. Lord Greenhalgh said the Government has invested £228 million since 2012 in coastal towns, supporting 359 projects through the Coastal Communities Fund and a further £7.5 million though the Coastal Revival Fund. In recognition of the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Government has announced a package of support for businesses, including £13 billion of grant funding to help small and rural businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors manage their cashflow through this period.

On Thursday 28th May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1st June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.

On Friday 29th May, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended - with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570. The Chancellor also outlined further details on the extension of the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme, including improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time in July, and a new taper requiring employers to contribute modestly to furloughed salaries from August. Also on Friday, the Government announced it is working with leading businesses and trade associations to publish a code of practice to support high street businesses and provide clarity over rent payments. Mental Health Minister Nadine Dorries also announced that community projects nationwide will be able to receive a share of £5 million Government investment to expand mental health support, delivered by mental health charity Mind.

On Sunday 31st May, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that extremely vulnerable people who have been shielding in England will be able to safely spend time outdoors from Monday 1st June.

This week in politics (1 June - 7 June)
  • On Tuesday 2nd June, in the House of Lords Main Chamber there will be oral questions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of public transport with Baroness Randerson (LibDem).
  • On Wednesday 3rd June, the House of Commons Education Select Committee will have an oral evidence session on the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. The Treasury Committee will also have an oral evidence session on the economic impact of COVID-19. In the House of Lords, there will be oral questions on the operation of local democracy in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, and an oral evidence session with the Public Services Committee on public services and lessons from COVID-19.
  • On Thursday 4th June, in the House of Lords Main Chamber there will be a debate on Government action to close any educational gaps arising from the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic with Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab).
  • On Friday 5th June, in the House of Commons, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will have an oral evidence session on COVID-19 and food supply.

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