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We believe the use of cyber espionage tools against civil society and political groups is unacceptable. Expert advice and support have been provided by the National Cyber Security Centre. It’s essential that nation states and other cyber actors use capabilities in a way that is legal, responsible and proportionate and to ensure cyberspace remains free, open, peaceful and secure. Where a law has been broken, HMG will work with law enforcement to bring those responsible to account. The UK and its allies are committed to ensuring key technologies are not abused and their trade is tightly controlled.
There is a significant package of support currently available to businesses in restaurant and takeaway sectors. These include:
In order to support businesses wishing to remain open, the Government has also changed regulations to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs to offer delivery and food takeaways without going through the normal planning process.
The Government has regular contact with the hospitality industry, and one of my Ministerial colleagues has spoken with the Bangladesh Caterers Association. The Department’s ministerial team will continue to engage with a variety of representatives from the sector to develop safe ways for the sector to reopen.
We recognise the challenges the hospitality industry faces during this time, which is why we have been providing extensive support for businesses, including specific grants for the sector, as well as our furlough scheme which has been extended until October, 100% business rates holidays, and tens of billions of pounds’ worth of business loans and guarantees.
The Government have engaged with hospitality businesses to discuss various issues around reopening, including financial issues. This Department’s ministerial team are in weekly contact with the industry.
We have now published new guidance for pubs, restaurants, and bars which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. This supports my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 June for their reopening from 4 July. The guidance was developed following consultation with representatives from the industry.
The Government has also conducted a comprehensive review of the 2m social distancing rule and from 4 July, our advice is changing to state that people should either stay 2m apart or ‘1m plus’ – which is one metre plus mitigations.
Where businesses need to operate at 1m to be viable they should do so, provided they put in place the appropriate mitigations.
The Government announced (on 11 May) and updated (on 14 June) comprehensive guidance for shops and branches, which employers can deploy. We have also published (on 23 June) new guidance for close contact services and restaurants, pubs and bars. This supports my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement (on 23 June) for their reopening from 4 July where they can do so in a safe and COVID-secure way.
Enforcement bodies, such as the Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities, have put measures in place to support the implementation of the safer workplaces guidance. Government will consider if a stronger approach is needed and will take appropriate action as necessary.
As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.
The government has announced £3.2 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
This funding is not ringfenced and is intended to help local authorities address any pressures they are facing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, across all service areas, including children’s social care.
Our latest guidance on vulnerable children is set out below:
These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.
The UK is at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19, through our diplomatic efforts and the provision of £744 million of UK aid to counter the health, humanitarian, and economic impacts.
UK aid is supporting Bangladesh’s efforts in fighting COVID-19 across the country. The UK has allocated around £21 million so far to support the priorities set out in the Government of Bangladesh's National Preparedness and Response plan. This includes more than £7 million to support the national health systems and £3 million to the UN Development Programme to reach at least 2.16 million of the poorest inhabitants. More than £10 million has been allocated to existing UN and NGO partners to prepare for COVID-19 and maintain critical humanitarian services in the Rohingya refugee camps. Furthermore, DFID and Unilever are collaborating on a mass global handwashing campaign, which will run across TV, radio and print, social and digital media to help change people’s behaviour in countries across Africa and Asia, including Bangladesh. Messages will be tailored to communities in these countries to ensure they are effective.
The UK does not have a bilateral aid programme in Sri Lanka but through our support to the UN and other international bodies, UK aid will indirectly support Sri Lanka in tackling COVID-19. The UK has also adapted our Conflict, Security and Stability Fund work in Sri Lanka to respond to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable and conflict affected communities.
The UK is a significant contributor to the IMF Catastrophe Fund which Liberia has accessed for debt relief. DFID is aware of the existing levels of poverty and fragile economy in Liberia and is therefore working to address the impacts that COVID-19 will have. In order to do this, we are prioritising our health response as well as the provision of social protection.
Refugees are amongst the most vulnerable to the COVID 19 pandemic, with women and girls disproportionately affected. That is why the UK is pushing for greater support to women and girls across the international response.
To date, the UK has committed £744 million in the international fight against COVID-19. That includes significant support to the United Nations Population Fund to address the needs of women and girls, with regards to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The UK is also supporting the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide essential services for refugees including tackling GBV and child protection, as well as emergency cash assistance to survivors and women-at-risk. Displaced women are actively involved in delivery of assistance, informing their communities about the risks of violence and providing information on prevention and protective health measures.
Whilst the current crisis inevitably has had an impact on access and movement, aid workers remain very much engaged in refugee camps around the world. We are pushing to ensure humanitarian access is maintained and assistance is targeted to those most in need. Humanitarian organisations are also working through local partners on the frontlines of the response including women-led and women’s rights organisations.
The UK’s support to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in the Rohingya and host communities in Cox’s Bazar since 2017 has helped more than 12,000 individuals receive GBV case management support. In the current situation, while camp operations have been limited to minimise the risk of COVID-19 exposure to refugees, protection services are still being provided. Child Protection Focal Points, GBV case workers, and the Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Network (led by the Inter-Sectoral Coordination Group) continue to play a critical role and ensure continuity despite reduced humanitarian staff presence in the camps. This includes monitoring, coordination, referral and immediate support for survivors. Anti-trafficking awareness raising is also ongoing. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the heightened risks as a result of the current restrictions and – through our partners – will monitor this closely and respond as best as possible within the constraints faced.
We are very concerned by the apparent disproportionate number of people from minority ethnic backgrounds who have died, both within the National Health Service and overall. We have asked Public Health England to complete a rapid review to understand how COVID-19 may be having an impact on different ethnic groups, and other groups of concern. The terms of reference will be announced in due course.
To complement this rapid review, the National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation issued a joint call on 22 April for research proposals to investigate emerging evidence of an association between ethnicity and COVID-19 incidence and adverse health outcomes.
Public Health England (PHE) has created a number of easy read versions of the public health advice on COVID-19 for people with learning difficulties, which is available to the public and organisations. An example of an easy read guide on COVID-19 is attached.
There are also a number of British Sign Language resources for the public on PHE’s campaign resource centre including the television advert with the Chief Medical Officer. PHE has provided links from its public facing guidance web page to the wide range of content available in sign language. This includes the guidance on staying at home and shielding vulnerable groups.
Public Health England (PHE) records reported outbreaks of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 in care homes. However, PHE does not hold data on the type of residents cared for. PHE is currently seeking advice from the Care Quality Commission on the range of types of care homes that care for people with a learning disability or autism in order to undertake an analysis of this issue and report back by mid-May.
The Department has commissioned NHS England to develop a comprehensive emotional, psychological and practical support package for National Health Service staff during and following the COVID-19 response. This currently includes: free access to well-being apps; a dedicated support helpline and text service (in partnership with the Samaritans); and a separate helpline offering bereavement support (in partnership with Hospice UK). The Department is working with partners to extend both helplines to the social care workforce and will also be introducing an app and website aimed at providing timely information for the adult social care workforce.
We are looking very specifically at the impact COVID-19 is having on the black, Asian and minority ethnic population. We have commissioned Public Health England to look at this issue in detail and they are due to report before the end of May. The review will also analyse available data on health outcomes for National Health Service staff, to develop a better understanding of how the virus affects frontline workforce.
In advance of Public Health England’s review, and on a precautionary basis, NHS England and NHS Improvement have recommended that NHS employers should risk-assess staff at potentially greater risk and make appropriate arrangements accordingly.
We are working around the clock to ensure personal protective equipment is delivered as quickly as possible to all those on the frontline during this global pandemic for as long as it is required.
The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy identifies countering state threats as a key priority for safeguarding our democracy, society and economy. Our approach, is to deter states from aggressive acts through the prospect of punishment by detecting, attributing and responding accordingly; and by denying them the opportunity to act, through reducing our vulnerabilities and improving our resilience.
During the Queen’s Speech in May, the Government announced plans for new legislation to provide the security services and law enforcement with additional tools to tackle the evolving threat of hostile activity by states. Following this, the Home Office launched a public consultation on legislative proposals that seek to:
The Race Disparity Unit is working with COVID teams across departments to engage directly with ethnic minority communities, including Bangladeshi communities, across the country. The Government has been working closely with faith leaders, the voluntary sector, community representatives and BAME business leaders to ensure that advice and relief measures announced are available to those who need it. To increase accessibility, government advice, guidance, legislation, and the support measures announced were translated into over 25 different languages.
We are in frequent contact with the domestic abuse sector, including specialist BAME organisations, as well as the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, to understand the impact of covid-19 on BAME communities.
Following increases in calls to domestic abuse helplines and online services, the Home Secretary announced an additional £2m to bolster organisations’ capacity on April 11. This is currently being allocated.
This is in addition to £28m of Government funding for domestic abuse charities to help survivors of domestic abuse and their children by providing more safe spaces, accommodation and access to support services during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Government works inter-departmentally and with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and domestic abuse organisations to understand funding requirements for these organisations at the national level. Levels and types of funding provided from Government Departments to organisations is monitored by those respective Departments. Details of systems in place at local level, for example through local authorities, are not held centrally.
The Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner has agreed to undertake an in-depth exploration of the current community-based support landscape over 2020/21 which will inform our understanding of the availability of funding for domestic abuse organisations. The precise scope and timing of the review is a matter for the independent Commissioner. The review is expected to take some 12 months
A ministerial-led National Steering Group will be established to monitor and evaluate delivery of the new duty on tier one local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse, and their children, within safe accommodation (as provided for in Part 4 of the Domestic Abuse Bill). Tier one local authorities will be required to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies for the provision of such support.
The National Steering Group will include representatives from local government, Police and Crime Commissioners, health bodies, specialist domestic abuse service providers and housing associations. The Domestic Abuse Commissioner will also be a member.
The Government is committed to supporting people, including those with no recourse to public funds, through this crisis. We are taking a compassionate and pragmatic approach and will continue to review the situation to consider if more can be done.
Following increases in calls to domestic abuse helplines and online services, the Home Secretary announced an additional £2m to bolster organisations’ capacity on April 11. This is in addition to £28m of Government funding for domestic abuse charities to help survivors of domestic abuse and their children by providing more safe spaces, accommodation and access to support services during the coronavirus outbreak.
We have also launched a campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse and signpost victims to the support services available. The campaign, under the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone, aims to reassure those affected by domestic abuse that support services remain available during this difficult time. Details of these services can be found at www.gov.uk/domestic-abuse
A £3.2 billion package of funding has been allocated to local authorities to help them respond to pressures across all the services they deliver and support any individual on the basis of any genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution. For example, where there are community care needs, migrants with serious health problems or family cases.
People granted leave under the family and human rights routes can also apply to have a no recourse to public funds condition lifted or for access to benefits if their financial circumstances change.
Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government?continues to play a facilitative?role?in ensuring?Government?understands?the needs of BAME communities, including Muslim women, and the challenges they?may be currently?facing?in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is some evidence to suggest that BAME communities may be disproportionately affected by coronavirus.
There is a substantial package of targeted support for charities on the frontline of responding to COVID-19. The £750m DCMS-led funding package that the Government has announced will support organisations working with vulnerable groups impacted by COVID-19, including some in BAME communities.
Of this funding, £370m will support smaller, local charities working with vulnerable people. In England, this support will be provided through the National Lottery Community Fund. More details of the funding criteria and application process will be released in the coming days via the National Community Lottery Fund. £60m of the funding will be allocated through the Barnett formula so the devolved administrations are funded to provide similar support in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. DCMS always strives to engage with and represent all British people in its work, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
A further £360m will be distributed between Government departments to provide targeted support to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. This funding will not be allocated via an open bid but will be awarded in line with agreed departmental priorities, with the first £76m going towards supporting survivors of?domestic abuse, sexual violence, vulnerable children and their families and victims of modern slavery announced on 02 May.
As part of this, MHCLG launched a £10m ‘Domestic abuse safe accommodation: COVID-19 emergency support fund’ for charities providing safe accommodation for domestic abuse victims to bid directly into (attached) (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/domestic-abuse-safe-accommodation-covid-19-emergency-support-fund). This includes charities that provide specialist services such as those dedicated to supporting BAME victims. The deadline for charities to put forward an application is Thursday 21 May.
Departments, including MHCLG, continue to work at pace to ensure this funding reaches the areas of greatest need as quickly as possible, with the aim for our key partners to receive money in the coming weeks.
In addition, for 2020/2021, MHCLG has launched a new competitive grant scheme, with a budget of up to £2m for established community organisations and charities to carry out projects that promote shared values and integration, whilst tackling the harmful behaviours which lead to religiously and racially motivated hate crime. We welcome proposals from projects supporting the BAME community and Muslim women.
The Home Offices’ Building a Stronger Britain Together programme is also continuing to support BAME communities and Muslim women’s organisations within its network. These civil society organisations work within communities to tackle all forms of extremism; support victims of extremism and hate crime, as well as challenging the divisive, extremist narratives targeting minority communities. Preparations for 2020/21 delivery of the BSBT programme are currently underway. The programme uses robust grant standards to ensure our funding delivers the greatest impact for these organisations in tackling extremism issues.