Coronavirus Act 2020: debate on temporary provisions

As the Covid-19 pandemic progressed in March 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force. This provided UK public bodies with a suite of powers to respond to the situation. Most provisions within the act are temporary and set to expire automatically in March 2022. The act requires these provisions to be scrutinised by Parliament periodically. This article considers what the act does, how it is scrutinised, and the UK and devolved governments’ Covid-19 plans for autumn/winter 2021–22.

Coronavirus Act 2020: debate on temporary provisions

Public Health England: Gambling-related harms review

The Government has estimated that there are 400,000 ‘problem gamblers’ in England, with a further 2 million people at risk of developing a problem. In its recent report, Public Health England has called for gambling-related harm to be considered as a public health issue. The Government is undertaking a review of the Gambling Act 2005 and has invested in services for those affected by this issue in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Public Health England: Gambling-related harms review
  • In Focus

    Assisted Dying Bill [HL]

    This private member’s bill would create a legal framework to allow a terminally ill patient to end their life, provided they have the consent of two medical practitioners. The High Court would also have to provide consent. The form of death would be prescribed, self-administered life-ending drugs. The bill is scheduled to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 22 October 2021.

  • Research Briefing

    Health and Social Care Levy Bill

    The bill would provide for a new tax dedicated to helping fund the Government’s plans for health and social care, with proceeds ringfenced for this purpose. The tax would be collected from April 2022. The House of Commons has passed the bill and there are limitations on the powers of the House of Lords to amend or reject the measure. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the bill at second reading and remaining stages on 11 October 2021.

  • In Focus

    Social care funding: a rise in national insurance

    On 7 September 2021, the Government announced plans to increase the funding of health and social care through a new tax: the health and social care levy. The levy will be based on a rise in national insurance and will raise £12 billion a year on average over the next three years. Many commentators have raised concerns that this approach is unfair on younger people and low earners.

  • In Focus

    Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021

    The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 would make it a requirement for workers in care homes to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus. The Government has said this is important to protect vulnerable residents. The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has been critical of a lack of detail on the implementation of the policy. The Lords is due to debate the regulations on 20 July 2021.

  • In Focus

    Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

    In March 2020, the House of Lords Public Services Committee set up an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on public services which reported in November 2020. Among its findings, the committee identified five weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic that should be addressed to make public services resilient enough to withstand future crises. The committee’s recommendations also aimed to ‘lock-in’ innovations developed during the pandemic to reform public services over the longer-term.

  • In Focus

    Eating out and takeaways: calorie labelling regulations

    The Government has introduced draft regulations intended to require that large businesses such as restaurant chains display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and drink items prepared for immediate consumption. Ministers suggest the policy will deliver considerable benefits over the long term by reducing obesity and related demand on health services. However, the policy has been criticised by some in the hospitality industry and charities campaigning on behalf of those with eating disorders.

  • In Focus

    Women’s health outcomes: Is there a gender gap?

    On 8 July 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate the steps taken to improve women’s health outcomes. Research has found a gender health gap in the UK where many women receive poorer healthcare than men. This article examines some of the healthcare challenges women face, why they exist and what action the Government is taking to tackle the issue.

  • In Focus

    Organ Tourism and Cadavers on Display Bill [HL]

    This private member’s bill seeks to introduce penalties for UK citizens and residents travelling abroad for organ transplants when it is not clear that donors have given appropriate consent. It would also impose the same consent requirements for imported cadavers used in exhibitions as exist for UK-sourced cadavers. This is in the context of previous exhibitions having featured real human bodies that may have been the remains of non-consenting individuals.

  • In Focus

    Elderly Social Care (Insurance) Bill [HL]

    The Elderly Social Care (Insurance) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill sponsored by Lord Lilley (Conservative). The bill would establish a government-owned company to provide insurance against the risk of the policyholder needing elderly social care. The premium would be recouped via a charge on the person’s home at the time of their death or when the home was sold.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19: impact on child poverty and on young people’s education, health and wellbeing

    Concerns have been raised about the impact on young people of many of the measures taken to control the spread of coronavirus. This article explores the potential impact on education, health and poverty levels, and what the Government are doing to mitigate these concerns. It has been prepared in advance of a House of Lords debate scheduled for 17 June 2021.

  • In Focus

    Hungry for Change: Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment Committee report

    In July 2020, the House of Lords Food, Poverty and the Environment Committee published its report: ‘Hungry for Change: Fixing the Failures in Food’. The committee found that the UK’s food system—the production, manufacture, retail and consumption of food—“is failing”. It made a series of recommendations built around the central aim of ensuring that everyone, regardless of income, has access to a healthy and sustainable diet.

  • In Focus

    Neurological conditions and Covid-19

    Health and care services for those with neurological conditions have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with many of these patients also facing an increased risk from the virus. This briefing examines the diverse nature of these conditions and how the NHS has sought to adjust to the challenges caused by Covid-19.

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