On Wednesday 24th June, the Government announced that more than 50,000 rural Welsh homes and businesses could be eligible to have their broadband upgraded, due to a new collaboration between the UK and Welsh Governments. Residents and businesses will have access to more funding for better broadband, as the Welsh Government ‘tops up’ the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
On Thursday 25th June, the latest edition of the Rural Economic Bulletin was published, including additional analysis to show some impacts of COVID-19 outbreak. Some additional contextual information on the rural economy and poverty in rural areas has been also included. Of note, the report found that housing is less affordable in rural areas, there is a lower average earnings for those working in rural areas and rural economies are as diverse as urban economies. Based on confirmed cases of the virus reported to Public Health England (PHE) by 22nd June, there had been a total of 205 cases per 100,000 population for people living in predominantly rural areas (including those who have recovered or died) compared with 287 cases per 100,000 in predominantly urban areas excluding London and 285 cases per 100,000 for England overall. Also on Thursday, annual statistics about agriculture in the United Kingdom were published. The Prime Minister also announced that museums, galleries and heritage attractions will be able to open from 4th July, and that social distancing rules will be relaxed from two metres to one metre allowing pubs, restaurants, hotels, campsites and caravan parks to be allowed to reopen with new health and safety restrictions. The Government outlined support for pubs, cafes and restaurants to allow them to be able to serve more customers outdoors. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said tourism firms had 'breathed a sigh of relief' following the announcement.
On Friday 26th June, the Government announced proposals outlined to reduce the time vulnerable children spend out of the classroom, with consultation launched on changes to the School Admissions Code.
On Saturday 27th June, the Government announced a £200 million Sustainable Innovation Fund to help businesses across the UK drive forward cutting-edge new tech and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The funding, delivered through Innovate UK, forms part of a wider £750 million package of grants and loans announced in April to support innovative firms.
On Sunday 28th June, Local Government Minister Simon Clarke (Con) and Environment Minister Rebecca Pow (Con) wrote to councils setting out the Government’s position on public access to household waste recycling centres and municipal public toilets.
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