£6 Million of Extra Flood Recovery Funding for England’s Farmers
The Government has announced new measures to help farmers in England recover from the recent flooding, including a £6 million pot of new funding through an extension to the Farming Recovery Fund.
Affected farmers in eligible areas can claim grants of between £500 and £25,000 to cover a number of uninsurable repair costs, such as the re-cultivation of farmland; including re-seeding, replanting cover crops and alleviating soil compaction.
Support will be available for flooded farms in parts of East and North Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and Herefordshire.
The Environment Secretary has also confirmed that the Government intends to relax the crop diversification requirements known as the ‘three crop rule’ for farmers for 2020, as those in flooded areas have suggested they will have difficulty complying with the rule this year. The rule was brought over from EU law when the UK left the EU on 31 January, and requires farmers managing more than 30 hectares of arable land required to grow at least three different crops on that land.
With large swathes of farmland in England under floodwater for most of February, the Government is pursuing plans through Parliament to relax this rule for all farmers for 2020, so those who are unable to access their flooded land to plant spring crops over the coming weeks and months will not be unfairly penalised.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
‘I have seen first-hand how devastating the recent floods have been to people and communities.
‘For farmers, the costs can be overwhelming, which is why we have extended the Farming Recovery Fund to help those affected by exceptional flooding get back on their feet.’
More information on the application dates for the extended Farming Recovery Fund will be released in due course.
£2.9bn Funding to Free Up Hospital Beds During Coronavirus Outbreak
The Department of Health and Social care has announced funding to help patients who no longer need urgent hospital treatment to return home.
The funding, which comes from the £5 billion COVID-19 fund, will make at least 15,000 beds available during the coronavirus outbreak.
Local authorities will receive £1.6 billion to help them respond to other coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures across all the services they deliver. This includes increasing support for the adult social care workforce and for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people.
A further £1.3 billion will be used to enhance the NHS discharge process so patients who no longer need urgent treatment can return home safely and quickly.
The funding will cover the follow-on care costs for adults in social care, or people who need additional support, when they are out of hospital and back in their homes, community settings, or care settings.
Enhancing the NHS discharge process will help free up 15,000 hospital beds across England and ensure more staff have capacity to treat people needing urgent care, including those being cared for with coronavirus.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:
“Our £5 billion budget response fund is now being used to free up more beds in hospitals and ensure some of our most vulnerable people are getting the care they need. The government will continue to lay out comprehensive and coordinated responses to get this country through this situation.”
Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick said:
“The work of local authorities to deliver social care and other vital public services has never been more important than it is now – and will be – in the days and weeks ahead.
“That’s why we’re giving local councils £1.6 billion of additional funding to spend where it’s needed most, to ensure they can meet the cost of the increased demand for social care, and continue to protect the most vulnerable people in society.”
The government will continue to monitor pressures in the NHS and local government and will keep reviewing future funding.
Facebook to Launch $100m Fund for Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus
Facebook for Business has announced outline details of a new scheme designed to help small businesses under threat of survival owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The Facebook Small Business Grants Programme will endeavour to help businesses that are experiencing disruptions in their cash flow as the global COVID-19 outbreak continues.
Additionally, Facebook’s Business Hub, which was previously a resource limited to Facebook employees and health experts, will now be available for all businesses to access. The company has also pledged to create new ‘virtual training’ to support businesses operating during the coronavirus outbreak.
Facebook is offering US$100 million (approximately £84 million) in cash grants and advertising credits on its ad platform for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. The funding is intended to help firms in the following ways:
Covering operational costs.
Helping with rent costs.
Connecting with more customers.
Maintaining a strong workforce.
Small businesses in over 30 countries where Facebook operates may be eligible to apply. At this stage there are no further details on industry eligibility or confirmation on the countries which will be included.
Facebook’s Chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said:
‘We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them. We’ve heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work.
‘Whatever happens next, we will be working to help businesses weather this storm.’
The programme is expected to commence accepting applications in the coming weeks. Further details about eligibility and how to apply will be reported when available.