invests ₤35m to protect critical freight routes
VITAL freight routes
into, out of and around the UK will continue to run smoothly,
thanks to a multi million pound Government scheme to help ensure
critical goods, such as food and medical supplies can move
The Government has signed agreements with 6 operators to provide
an estimated ₤35 million to ensure there is enough freight
capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods.
The decision has been made to protect 16 of the most important
routes; covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea
and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; which
were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a
result of COVID-19. They will now be designated as Public
Service Obligation routes for a period of up to 9 weeks.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:- "From the very
beginning of the outbreak, we have committed to do whatever it
takes to minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19. By taking
this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and
services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies
across the Union."
The Department for Transport is working closely with the
transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the
situation on all freight routes (not just those in the scheme)
in order to ensure critical goods, such as food and medical
supplies, can move freely.
The agreements follow the UK, French and Irish Governments'
pledge to work together on temporary measures to ensure COVID-19
does not threaten vital freight routes between the countries.
UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, Irish Minister for
Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and French Minister of
Transport, Jean Baptiste Djebbari, said in a joint statement,
that our nations are united by trade and we will continue to
engage closely to help keep freight moving.
face masks could stop 'months of misery' for 9 million people,
MILLIONS of deaf people
could face "months of misery" unless transparent
face masks are made widely available, some of the country's
major deaf and disability organisations have warned. 9
organisations, led by the National Deaf Children's Society, have
written to Public Health England and NHS England urging them to
work together quickly to commission transparent face masks.
Without them, the charities say deaf people face a world where
they can't understand what's being said to them, putting them at
an even higher risk of isolation and loneliness at a critical
time. There are currently around 9 million people in England who
are deaf or live with a hearing loss and almost all of them rely
on seeing someone's face clearly, as it helps with lip reading
and reading facial expressions. In the letter, the charities
warn that this will become impossible if the general public now
start to wear standard face masks or coverings. If transparent
masks were also available however, they say it would make a:-
"monumental difference" to deaf people across nation.
The coalition, which includes:- the National Deaf Children's
Society, Action on Hearing Loss, Royal Association for Deaf
people, Action Deafness, British Deaf Association, Sign Health,
British Association of Teachers of the Deaf, Sense and the UK
Council on Deafness, also asks for any future Government
guidance on the topic to include advice on speaking to deaf or
deaf blind people whilst wearing face masks or coverings. The
National Deaf Children's Society has provided five tips for the
public when they speak to a deaf person whilst wearing a face
mask, urging everyone to take them on board:-
1. Write it down. - If speech isn't working, write it down or
use a text message.
2. Use an app. - There are mobile apps that can translate speech
into text; why not give one a try?
3. Keep it clear. - If you can, use a face mask with a clear
panel or a clear face visor so your face is visible.
4. Find a quiet place. - This will make it easier to hear,
especially if technology is used to support hearing.
5. Use video calls. - If you don't need to meet face to face, a
video call with captions or British Sign Language interpretation
may work just as well and you won't need a mask.
Susan Daniels, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children's
Society, said:- "This is an extremely challenging time for
everyone and we're relying on each other's support,
understanding and patience to get through it. Deaf people are no
exception and if face masks or coverings become widespread, they
could experience months of misery as they struggle to understand
what is said to them. This could be even harder for children,
who may not have the confidence to keep asking for things to be
repeated and often find it easier to just pretend they
understand. Transparent face masks would make a monumental
difference to deaf people's lives, but we'd also ask everyone to
take these simple deaf awareness tips on board. They won't make
much difference to your life, but they will have a massive
effect on ours."
Steph Halder, President of the British Association of Teachers
of the Deaf, said that her organisation had already been
responding to queries and concerns from its members about the
impact of face masks on deaf children. "Deaf children rely
on lip patterns to support their communication and also need to
see peoples' faces for emotional understanding. The use of face
masks could have a negative impact on assessments and
verification of hearing aids and auditory implants. Deaf
children do not hear well over distance and may already be
struggling with social distancing measures. Clear face masks
would remove some of the barriers and ensure that deaf children
are not put at a disadvantage."
Linda Richards, Chair of the British Deaf Association, said:-
"Don't mask the message. Use of clear face masks and visors /
shields with Deaf people is reassuring, reduces the risk of
misunderstandings, and gives us the chance; indeed, the right;
to be as fully informed and involved in our treatment as is
possible. Don't mask the message with an unnecessary barrier. Be
clear. Go clear."
Craig Crowley, Chief Executive of Action Deafness, said:-
"We believe this clear face mask is urgently needed and will
make a huge difference to patients being able to access their
communication needs, especially in this serious COVID-19
Statutory Sick Pay scheme to launch in May
A new online service will launch on 26 May 2020 for small
and medium sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
payments they have made to their employees, the Government has
announced on 18 May 2020. The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay
Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget as part of a package of
support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19
outbreak. This scheme will allow small and medium sized
employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to
recover the costs of paying Coronavirus related SSP. Employers
will be able to make their claims through a new online service
from 26 May 2020. This means they will receive repayments at the
relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former
employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after
13 March 2020.
Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions,
Therese Coffey said:- "We are committed to supporting
Britain's small and medium businesses through this pandemic with
a comprehensive package of support. This rebate will put money
back in the pockets of millions of employers, ensuring they can
hit the ground running as the economy re-opens."
Angela MacDonald, HMRC's Director General of Customer Services,
said:- "Our teams have worked hard to deliver this scheme
for employers and their employees, to ensure they get the
support they need. We want employers to be secure in the
knowledge they will receive help as they care for their staff
during this difficult period."
Employers are eligible if they have a PAYE payroll scheme that
was created and started before 28 February 2020 and they had
fewer than 250 employees before the same date. The repayment
will cover up to 2 weeks of SSP, and is payable if an employee
is unable to work because they:-
► Have Coronavirus.
► Are Self Isolating and unable to
work from home.
► Are shielding because they've been
advised that they're at high risk of severe illness from
To prepare to make their claim, employers should keep records of
all the SSP payments that they wish to claim from HMRC. Further
guidance is available on:-
warning from the CLA
THE CLA is calling on
the public to take extra care in the countryside due to the
increased fire risk, especially on hillsides, moors and
heathland as warm, dry, and windy conditions have elevated
wildfire conditions across large swathes of the country. In
addition, there will potentially be an increase of visitors to
the countryside in the leading into the Bank holiday weekend,
coupled with the Government's recent easing of restrictions on
people's movements. Wildfires have the capability to devastate
farmland, wildlife and also pose a risk to the lives of people
living and working in rural and adjacent communities. Reducing
the risk of wildfires is key at this time of the year, and
raising awareness is one way in which the risk can be reduced.
Wildfires can be prevented by not discarding cigarettes or other
smoldering material. The same can be said for litter as quite
often bottles and shards of glass can spark a fire. There is
also an increased fire risk associated with disposable barbeques
that are used in the countryside, urging the visiting public not
to barbeque in rural areas. Barbeques should only take place in
sheltered areas well away from combustible material, and
properly extinguished afterwards whilst heeding Government
guidance on social distancing and gatherings.
CLA Director North, Dorothy Fairburn, said:- "We appeal to
the public to be extra vigilant when visiting the countryside as
there is an increased risk of wildfires due to the current dry
conditions on farm fields, moors and heathfields. Prevention is
better than cure, and especially now when we can ill afford
putting undue stress on emergency services."
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Services has renewed a call for
vigilance in the countryside after a spate of deliberate fires
across Cumbria. Read the Service's statement here. In case of a
fire, the public is advised not to try and tackle the fire
themselves, and to alert the emergency services on the 999
number, stating as accurately as possible, the location of such
COVID-19 patients in Hospital to benefit from Bank's ₤10,000
CHILDREN and COVID-19
patients in Hospital and frontline staff at the Warrington and
Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will benefit from
a ₤10,000 donation made by a leading Challenger Bank.
Redwood Bank, which has an office in Warrington, is handing over
the cash contribution to the Warrington & Halton Hospitals'
Charity, an organisation that raises funds to help people who
have been in Hospital and require some extra help beyond the
services the NHS provides.
The money will be spent on toiletry packs and simple clothing
for COVID-19 patients who are taken into Hospital with no
personal belongings, and on discharge packs for those recovering
who may not have any of the basics waiting for them at home.
In addition, the Trust hopes to fund iPads and other devices, so
that patients who are currently not allowed visitors can contact
their loved ones via:- 'face to face' video calls.
The Trust's Chief Executive Professor Simon Constable said:-
"Not seeing loved ones is a real concern for our patients, so
as well as purchasing more devices, we've temporarily funded
free bedside TV and phone calls for all patients. Our children
have also been badly affected, as they're only allowed one
parent to stay with them on the ward and their siblings cannot
visit at all. We'd like to provide our children's ward with a
range of additional items to help keep them amused. When people
lose their life to Coronavirus, they sometimes die without their
loved ones at their side. This is heartbreaking for all
involved, so we asked our community of knitters to make little
red hearts. One stays with the patient and the others are given
to the family in memory of their loved one. It's such a small
gesture, but many have found comfort from it. We'll also be
buying more red wool and knitting sets so we can ensure that
every patient that passes while in our care gets this fitting
The donation will also go towards helping to support staff
mental health and wellbeing with the creation of a Sanctuary
offering counselling and mental health support, as well as
relaxation and yoga classes.
The charity supports the Warrington Hospital and Halton Hospital
Gary Wilkinson, CEO and Co-Founder of Redwood Bank, said:-
"It's devastating to hear that poorly children can only see
one parent at a time and that COVID-19 patients are dying alone
without all their loved ones around them. We all know this is
necessary because of how infectious this killer virus is, but it
doesn't make it any easier for those involved. As a Bank there's
not much we can do, other than provide financial support, which
is why we've decided to make this ₤10,000 donation to help
support the brave frontline healthcare workers, the children who
are missing their families and all the Coronavirus patients who
are fighting for their lives completely alone. We want each and
every person at the Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS
Foundation Trust to know we're behind them and as a company we
are also doing our bit as we're all working from home and social
The announcement comes just weeks after Redwood Bank pledged
another ₤10,000 to the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust,
where the Bank has its headquarters.
As soon as the Government requested people work from home if
they could, the Bank made it mandatory that all staff followed
Founded in 2017, Redwood Bank is the UK's 1st business
challenger bank to have been:- 'born in the cloud,'
secure systems were already in place to support remote working.
All staff already had access to the technology and capabilities
to allow them to work from anywhere in the country.
For further information about Redwood's Coronavirus approach,
Total UK cases
COVID-19 cases - update for Liverpool City Region and
THE total number of Coronavirus
(COVID-19) that have been laboratory confirmed, within the UK,
has risen by 2,684 cases
and the total number now stand at 246,406, that
includes tests carried out by commercial partners which are not
included in the 4 National totals. The daily number of
laboratory confirmed UK cases is 3,142, as of Sunday,17 May
2020. The total number of deaths of people who have had a
positive test result confirmed by a Public Health or NHS
laboratory is 34,796. Daily number of COVID-19 associated UK
deaths added to the total, was sadly reported to be 160
according to the Department of Health. In England, there are a
total of 144,127 confirmed cases. North West - total of 23,786
confirmed cases. The number of laboratory
confirmed cases within the following Local Authorities, in and
around the Liverpool City Region are as follows:-
► Liverpool, 1,558 confirmed cases.
► Sefton, 891 confirmed cases.
► Wirral, 1,180 confirmed cases.
► St. Helens, 730 confirmed cases.
► Halton, 369 confirmed cases.
► Lancashire, 3,351 confirmed cases.
► Cheshire West and Chester, 992 confirmed cases.
► Cheshire East, 1,102 confirmed cases.
► Manchester, 1,428 confirmed cases.
► Stockport, 1,013 confirmed cases.
► Trafford, 746 confirmed cases.
► Wigan, 1,118 confirmed cases.
► Bolton, 954 confirmed cases.
► Rochdale, 720 confirmed cases.
► Bury, 669 confirmed cases.
► Tameside, 627 confirmed cases.
► Oldham, 1,004 confirmed cases.
► Blackburn with Darwen, 386 confirmed cases.
These stats are according to Public Health England as of
18/05/2020. Last updated 4.51pm GMT. UK total includes cases
detected through:- "Pillar 2" testing (tests carried out by
commercial partners) and therefore does not equate to the sum of
the 4 countries' counts, which only include:- "Pillar 1" (tests
carried out by NHS / PHE / Devolved Administration Labs)..
UK total includes cases detected through:- "Pillar 2" testing
(tests carried out by commercial partners) and therefore does
not equate to the sum of the 4 countries' counts, which only
include:- "Pillar 1" (tests carried out by NHS / PHE / Devolved
UK Government Coronavirus Press
Conference on 18 May 2020 Video