More than 160 parts of England see a rise in coronavirus cases

More than 160 places in England have seen a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in seven days – with some places seeing the infection rate more than treble.


Gateshead, is among the areas seeing the most rapid increases, with Bolton, Liverpool, Birmingham, Hertsmere and Bury among the places which saw the rate double compared to a week before.

The latest data from Public Health England shows there are 196 areas in England with a new infection rate of more than 10 per 100,000. [Including Plymouth and East Devon – Owl]

Of these, 164 recorded an increase compared to the previous week, reports The Mirror.

Yesterday the government announced there had been 2,948 cases identified in the previous 24 hours.

The worst-affected area is Bolton, where 350 new cases were affected in seven days – more than double the previous week.

The rate in Bradford has also increased sharply, from 46.3 to 70.6 with 381 new cases.

Blackburn with Darwen is in third place, where the rate has risen from 47.4 to 62.8, with 94 new cases.

Other areas recording notable week-on-week jumps include:

  • Birmingham (up from 28.1 to 60.3, with 689 new cases)
  • Leeds (up from 29.6 to 47.9, with 380 new cases)
  • Liverpool (up from 14.9 to 35.7, with 178 new cases)
  • Gateshead (up from 13.4 to 46.0, with 93 new cases)
  • Salford (up from 37.5 to 60.3, with 156 new cases)

Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said: “This represents a marked increase in the seven-day rolling average of 1,812 cases per day compared to 1,244 a week ago and 1,040 a week before that.”

Areas with more than 10 cases per 100,000

Bolton – 121.7, up from 48.3
Bradford – 70.6, up from 46.3
Blackburn with Darwen – 62.8, up from 47.4
Oldham – 61.2, up from 58.6
Birmingham – 60.3, up from 28.1
Salford – 60.3, up from 37.5
Rochdale – 59.8, up from 43.6
Burnley – 59.6, up from 30.4
Rossendale – 58.8 up from 40.6
Preston – 58.0, up from 38.4
Hertsmere – 57.2, up from 12.4
Pendle – 56.5, down from 77.1
Manchester – 56.1, up from 40.9
Tameside – 55.6, up from 36.2
Bury – 50.8, up from 25.7
Leeds – 47.9, up from 29.6
Gateshead – 46.0, up from 13.4
South Tyneside – 45.0, up from 35.8
Hyndburn – 44.4, up from 24.7
Middlesbrough – 44.0, up from 22.7
Leicester – 42.6, up from 25.7
Solihull – 42.5, up from 10.2
Hartlepool – 41.6, up from 10.7
Wirral – 41.4, up from 29.9
Corby – 38.8, down from 54.0
Sunderland – 38.5, up from 7.9
Kirklees – 37.1, up from 26.6
Blaby – 36.4, up from 21.7
Lincoln – 36.3, up from 7.0
Liverpool – 35.7, up from 14.9
Calderdale – 34.0, up from 21.3
Warrington – 32.9, up from 8.6

Knowsley – 31.8, up from 8.0
Selby – 30.9, up from 6.6
Broxtowe – 30.7, up from 9.6
Sheffield – 30.6, up from 14.5
Sefton – 30.4, up from 11.6
Newcastle upon Tyne – 30.4, up from 13.2
Spelthorne – 29.0, up from 13.0
Trafford – 27.0, down from 36.7
East Staffordshire – 26.7, up from 15.0
Wolverhampton – 26.6, up from 12.5
Sandwell – 26.2, down from 27.1
Northampton – 25.8, up from 23.2
Melton – 25.4, up from 0.0
Redbridge – 24.9, up from 11.5
West Lancashire – 24.5, up from 3.5
Barking and Dagenham – 24.4, up from 13.2
Barnsley – 24.3, up from 6.9
Peterborough – 24.2, up from 20.3
Wigan – 24.0, up from 11.3
Chiltern – 24.0, up from 11.5
Hounslow – 23.9, up from 9.9
Kensington and Chelsea – 23.7, down from 26.9
St. Helens – 23.3, up from 6.6
Harrow – 23.1, up from 17.5
North Tyneside – 23.1, up from 9.1
Stoke-on-Trent – 23.0, up from 16.4

Oadby and Wigston – 22.8, up from 15.8
South Ribble – 22.6, up from 7.2
Stockport – 22.5, up from 8.2
Harrogate – 22.4, up from 9.3
Castle Point – 22.1, up from 5.5
Scarborough – 22.1, up from 3.7
Bromsgrove – 22.0, up from 6.0
Havering – 21.6, up from 16.6
Newham – 21.5, up from 14.4
Nottingham – 21.3, up from 9.6
Stockton-on-Tees – 21.3, up from 11.1
Hammersmith and Fulham – 21.1, up from 22.7
Halton – 20.9, up from 4.6
Test Valley – 20.6, up from 3.2
Redcar and Cleveland – 20.4, up from 19.7
Coventry – 20.2, up from 18.8
Luton – 20.2, up from 9.9
Cheshire East – 20.0, up from 9.1
Elmbridge – 19.7, up from 17.5
Barnet – 19.7, up from 17.4
Rushcliffe – 19.3, up from 10.9
County Durham – 19.1, up from 10.8
Waverley – 19.0, up from 7.9
Northumberland – 18.9, up from 8.1
Kettering – 18.7, down from 37.3
High Peak – 18.3, up from 12.9
Wycombe – 18.3, up from 16.0
Great Yarmouth – 18.1, down from 31.2
Rotherham – 18.1, up from 9.8
Ashfield – 18.0, up from 2.3
Malvern Hills – 17.8, up from 2.5
Chorley – 17.8, up from 7.6
Tower Hamlets – 17.6, up from 15.1
Epping Forest – 17.5, up from 15.9
Rugby – 17.4, up from 7.3
Mansfield – 17.4, up from 6.4
Worthing – 17.2, up from 6.3
Walsall – 17.2, up from 9.5
Three Rivers – 17.1, up from 8.6
Harborough – 17.1, up from 14.9
East Northamptonshire – 16.9, up from 12.7
Lambeth – 16.9, up from 15.6
Dudley – 16.8, up from 9.0
Slough – 16.7, up from 9.4
Ealing – 16.7, up from 14.9
Barrow-in-Furness – 16.4, up from 0.0
North Somerset – 16.3, up from 6.5
Welwyn Hatfield – 16.3, down from 19.5
Newcastle-under-Lyme – 16.2, down from 25.5
Wakefield – 16.1, up from 12.1
South Staffordshire – 16.0, up from 4.4
Hillingdon – 16.0, up from 11.4
Windsor and Maidenhead – 15.8, down from 17.8
Wandsworth – 15.8, down from 18.2
Oxford – 15.7, up from 15.1
Tamworth – 15.6, down from 20.9
Watford – 15.5, down from 23.8
North Kesteven – 15.4, up from 4.3
Westminster – 15.3, down from 17.2
Staffordshire Moorlands – 15.2, up from 10.2
Norwich – 14.9, up from 13.5
Bristol – 14.9, up from 10.4
Haringey – 14.9, up from 14.1
Brent – 14.9, up from 12.1
St Albans – 14.8, up from 10.1
Ribble Valley – 14.8, down from 21.4
Wychavon – 14.7, up from 5.4
Surrey Heath – 14.6, up from 7.8
Blackpool – 14.3, up from 9.3
Wyre – 14.3, up from 3.6
Reigate and Banstead – 14.1, up from 6.7
Hackney and City of London – 14.1, down from 22.0
South Derbyshire – 14.0, up from 5.6
Croydon – 14.0, up from 9.3
Bracknell Forest – 13.9, up from 3.3
Wellingborough – 13.8, stayed the same
Southwark – 13.8, up from 12.9
North East Derbyshire – 13.8, up from 3.9
North Warwickshire – 13.8, up from 1.5
Enfield – 13.8, up from 13.5
York – 13.8, up from 4.7
Plymouth – 13.7, up from 9.9
Cheshire West and Chester – 13.7, up from 7.6
Stevenage – 13.7, up from 9.1
Bolsover – 13.7, up from 9.9
Epsom and Ewell – 13.6, up from 11.2
Richmond upon Thames – 13.6, down from 15.2
Swindon – 13.5, down from 20.7
Broxbourne – 13.4, up from 7.2
Uttlesford – 13.1, up from 11.0
Gravesham – 13.1, up from 6.5
Kingston upon Thames – 13.0, up from 10.7
Dacorum – 12.9, down from 22.6
Charnwood – 12.9, up from 4.8
Redditch – 12.9, down from 14.1
Breckland – 12.9, down from 28.6
Derby – 12.8, up from 7.8
Islington – 12.8, up from 10.7
West Oxfordshire – 12.7, up from 9.0
Tunbridge Wells – 12.6, up from 5.9
West Lindsey – 12.5, up from 1.0
Stafford – 12.4, up from 5.8
Lancaster – 12.3, up from 2.1
Basildon – 12.3, up from 6.9
Craven – 12.3, up from 1.8
Greenwich – 12.2, up from 9.7
Hambleton – 12.0, up from 7.6
Lewisham – 11.8, up from 10.1
Bromley – 11.7, up from 10.2
Wokingham – 11.7, up from 7.0
Mole Valley – 11.5, down from 13.8
Lichfield – 11.5, down from 12.4
Wiltshire – 11.4, up from 4.0
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole – 11.4, up from 5.3
Bexley – 11.3, up from 8.5
Cambridge – 11.2, down from 16.8
Runnymede – 11.2, up from 7.8
New Forest – 11.1, up from 8.9
Gedling – 11.0, up from 9.3
Woking – 10.9, up from 4.0
Adur – 10.9, up from 6.2
Worcester – 10.9, up from 5.9
Waltham Forest – 10.8, down from 15.2
Guildford – 10.7, up from 8.7
East Hampshire – 10.6, down from 11.4
North West Leicestershire – 10.6, up from 7.7
Arun – 10.6, up from 1.9
Chesterfield – 10.5, up from 1.0
Southend-on-Sea – 10.4, up from 9.8
Vale of White Horse – 10.3, down from 14.7
East Devon – 10.3, up from 6.8
Allerdale – 10.2, stayed the same
Bassetlaw – 10.2, up from 6.0
Shropshire – 10.2, up from 7.4
Tandridge – 10.2, up from 6.8
Carlisle – 10.1, down from 12.0
Camden – 10.0, down from 13.3
South Bucks – 10.0, down from 12.8

In charts: How the UK’s second wave is picking up pace

New infections of coronavirus in the UK are now growing as fast as they were at the beginning of April, according to Telegraph analysis.

By Alex Clark 8 September 2020 

Data on the last five days of new Covid-19 cases announced by Public Health England shows that new infections are now doubling every nine days, up from every 20 days just under a week ago.

That matches the daily rate seen between 6 and 7 April, where new coronavirus cases were doubling every eight to ten days, with a government scientific adviser today warning that the disease is again growing “exponentially” in the UK. 

After a spate of continuous decline in May and June, new cases of coronavirus began to tick up again in July – around when pubs and restaurants re-opened on so-called ‘Super Saturday’ on the 4th. 

At that point there were on average 700 new cases of coronavirus announced each day, down from a daily peak of over 5,000 in mid-April. 

By the beginning of September this daily rate had climbed to over 2,000 a day, however, up from around 1,000 towards the end of August – more than double.

This morning Professor John Edmunds, who is part of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE),  warned that cases are “increasing exponentially”, a phenomenon that can be seen when a logarithmic scale is applied to infections data, where straight lines represent such growth. 

Professor Edmunds went on to say that the UK has entered “a risky period” with the reproduction number potentially above the crucial figure of one.

“I didn’t want us to relax measures so much that we couldn’t open the schools safely without it tipping the reproduction number significantly above one,” he told ITV news.

“And we are already above one and we’ve opened schools.”

What’s different this time?

Unlike April, however, the UK now has a far more extensive testing regime – something that might over emphasise the number of fresh infections relative to the beginning of the pandemic.

In the past week alone there have been over 1.3m coronavirus tests, as opposed to just 95,188 in the first week of April. 

As of 2 September over 17m tests have been conducted in the UK, and around half of these have taken place since mid-July. 

Not only are there more tests now. Those actually returning positive results are a markedly different demographic to the pandemic’s first victims.

The largest share of positive results are coming from the 20 to 29 age group – in the week to 28 August, 29 per cent of new coronavirus infections in women and 28 per cent of men were in that bracket, the biggest shares of any group. 

That contrasts with most of the pandemic in the UK, when older age groups, particularly those above the age of 80, were the predominant demographic affected by the disease. 

On Sunday, after it was announced the UK had seen nearly 3,000 new coronavirus infections, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned young people not to “infect their grandparents”.

“The cases are predominantly among younger people, but we’ve seen in other countries across the world and in Europe, this sort of rise in the cases amongst younger people leading to a rise across the population as a whole,” said Mr Hancock.

“It’s so important that people don’t allow this illness to infect their grandparents, and to lead to the sorts of problems that we saw earlier in the year.”

On the other hand, Dr Neil Stone, an infectious disease specialist at University College Hospital in London, said: “I don’t believe the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK, US and elsewhere has ‘shifted’ to younger, healthier people.”

“They just weren’t being tested before.”


It is our democratic right to protest – but this government is crushing all opposition 

British democracy used to feel rock steady, unassailable: one could argue about the constitution, the voting system, the Lords, the monarchy, but about not the fundamental tenets.

Polly Toynbee

We’ve been taught how democracy settles disputes, enables power to change hands without bloodshed, and lets citizens of wildly opposing beliefs consent to be governed, policed and taxed.

But the wreckers running this government have lost any instinct for democratic values. If electoral victory entitles them to absolute power, all opposition becomes illegitimate.

So Extinction Rebellion activists face being treated as “saboteurs of democracy” – as organised criminals and terrorists – as the prime minister calls for new laws to protect the freedom of the press. But for one day only these climate breakdown campaigners shone a searchlight on the UK’s dysfunctional press – 80% owned by Rupert Murdoch and a few rightwing press barons, largely arguing against climate-saving policies and with a relentless anti-tax, anti-welfare, small-state agenda.

The Institute for Government (politically neutral) published a highly critical report on Monday, warning that the government was “well off-track” to meet its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and “lacking policies, with constant changes of direction, and failing to gain public consent”.

That calls for protest. Direct action risking arrest was always part of democracy. Protest – occasionally victorious, such as for the suffragettes – inhabits Britain’s history, whether it’s Peterloo, the miners, the Greenham women, the Iraq war march, anti-fracking or anti-HS2. That democratic tradition is now imperilled by threats of five-year prison terms and £10,000 fines.

In trying to exterminate opposing views, this government has lost any sense of balance or argument, as if planning to rule for ever.

The prime minister’s power-crazed chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, opens his mission-control centre, with data-tracking screens, staffed by “weirdos and misfits”. But his only mission is to destroy whatever holds the country together. Expect, we are told, a “big bang” for the British state.

The civil service is terrorised by five permanent secretaries being sacked or stepping down in six months, including the cabinet secretary: Cummings plans replacements with private-sector outsiders. Anyone not 110% with them is a foe: they will hear no other advice. Scapegoats are made of Public Health England (abolished) and Ofqual (decapitated). Judges are next, with curbs on their judicial reviews of government malfunctions.

Despised local government will see two-thirds of 218 district and county councils abolished, replaced by hundreds of mayors – gerrymandered, the Sunday Times suggests, to demolish what a government source called Labour “strangleholds” (not “heartlands”, note that language). Will Tory councillors who failed to rebel against a decade of depredations finally revolt at their own demise?

No one will stop any gerrymandering once the Electoral Commission is abolished. David Cameron made it harder for poor people, renters and young people to register for elections, in Donald Trump-style voter-suppression. No one will monitor political donations: the Mail on Sunday reports that City donors are threatening to “turn off the funding taps” to intimidate the chancellor into not raising inheritance, capital gains or corporation taxes. But they’ll pony up at election time.

No authority stops Boris Johnson giving multimillion-pound contracts to cronies and allies, or to PwC and Deloitte, without tendering. No protests stopped him putting the misogynist Tony Abbott on the board of trade, or stacking NHS and other posts with Tory politicians.

Shudder to think who they will impose as BBC chair. New director general Tim Davie’s opening speech took defensive action against the recent volley of assaults, restoring Rule, Britannia!. The Times splashed, “BBC should be cut down to size, says new chief”, but that wasn’t quite what he had said. The great majority of people who support the BBC wait to see if Davie is an appeaser who folds too easily or a strong pilot to navigate the national broadcaster through the oncoming storm.

The BBC is for ever the crucible. With a government that no longer accepts the norms of accountability, any factual report that reflects badly on it is “biased”. The country needs the BBC’s vigilant scrutiny to police the truth/ falsehood boundary, as a last bastion for a democracy that balances opposing ideas.

Wrecking took on new dimensions with the news on Monday that the government was trashing its own EU withdrawal treaty – negotiated and signed only months ago by Johnson himself. The SNP warned of a “disastrous Brexit outcome”. “Rogue-state behaviour”, said Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts. Anyone who gave a thought towards the union of the four nations would have urged a moderate, compromise Brexit to respect pro-EU majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Instead a crash-out or a thin deal will encourage these nations to depart.

Insults are the cut and thrust of democracy; Nye Bevan’s labelling of Conservatives as “lower than vermin” is printed on T-shirts. Hartley Shawcross once quipped, “We are the masters now”, but promptly crossed the floor from Labour to the Tories, spotting who the masters always seemed to be. Once Harold Wilson dared call Labour “the natural party of government”. If only. But neither Labour, nor even Thatcher’s Tories, had this megalomaniacal intent to delegitimise any opposing views.

The only hope – a dismal one – is that this government’s incompetence in everything means that all its “moonshots” fall to Earth as soon as they have left the gantry. Look at how last week ministers beckoned everyone back to offices, Prets and public transport – at the precisely predicted moment when Covid-19 was expected to shoot up again. All they touch turns to dross – yet we are condemned to that dross for four more years.

• Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

Two East Devon parishes successfully progressing their neighbourhood plans – East Devon

Otterton referendum to be held next year for residents and businesses to have their say and Membury neighbourhood plan reaches final stage of adoption.

4 September 2020

A referendum will be held next year for the residents and businesses of Otterton so that they can have their say on the parish’s neighbourhood plan.

The Otterton poll follows the successful referendum for the Membury neighbourhood plan which was held in March and was approved by 81% of those who voted.

Both plans have been developed over a number of years through the hard work and dedication of their respective parish councils’ neighbourhood plan steering groups. The plans sets out policies for the future of these areas to help inform decisions about land use and planning applications.

East Devon District Council has approved the Otterton plan as a robust and positive document and has recommended it to go forward for a referendum. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the referendum asking the parish to adopt the plan cannot be held until next year (2021). However, as the district council has recommended the plan and it has been the subject of significant public consultation and an independent examination, the proposals now have significant weight in any decisions about development in the parish.

The leader of the Otterton Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, Ian Birch, said:

“The fact that our village’s plan has reached this stage is very gratifying, and we’d like to thank everyone who contributed to its development over the last few years.

The plan will help protect the village against inappropriate development, whilst encouraging activity which supports and enhances the wonderful natural environment of the area. We look forward to the referendum taking place in due course – although it’s disappointing that this may not be until next year, depending on the course of recovery from the current pandemic.”

Membury neighbourhood plan is the latest to reach the final stage of the plan making process and was formally adopted by the East Devon District Council in April.

Cllr Dan Ledger, the district council’s portfolio holder for strategic planning said:

“I have to commend the steering groups of both Otterton and Membury for achieving these feats. A neighbourhood plan is a long and arduous process but one that has long lasting benefits to the community it serves.

It gives weight to the voice of the community within planning policy and allows them to set out a positive vision of how they wish to see the community develop. With the fantastic news of Membury’s neighbourhood plan being made in April, I will now eagerly await the results of the Otterton referendum in 2021.”

East Devon currently has 18 adopted neighbourhood plans and a further 20 plans at various stages of development. Once adopted, neighbourhood plans form part of the suite of statutory development plan documents, together with the East Devon Local Plan.

The Otterton and Membury plans are available to view on the district council’s website, together with further information about neighbourhood planning across the district. The website link is

The district council is keen to continue supporting the progression of neighbourhood planning work as far as is possible in the current circumstances. Parishes and groups needing help with neighbourhood plans can contact the council’s new neighbourhood planning officer Angela King through email at or by calling 01395 571740.


Don’t kill your granny, that’s our job – Health Secretary makes plea to youth

INTO THE MOUNTAINS WITH YOU : THE HEALTH SECRETARY of an industrialised nation currently mismanaging Covid-19 has made a plea for assistance from the nation’s young. 

“Some would think we’re still pursuing herd immunity as our strategy with Covid-19,” he began, “but just at a slower, more political manageable pace. Rather than the mass pit burial velocity we had to pull back from before the summer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your leaders are famous for adjusting their positions based on public opposition. We U turn all the time. You can trust us to U turn on you. And you can trust me when I say that, because I’m from your government.”

So far, so good.

“And don’t listen to any unpatriotic types who suggest that urging everyone back into offices, after reopening pubs, at the same time as refilling schools is not a sensible public health strategy. Teenagers, and drunks are famous for their self control and adherence to rules. Drunk teenagers especially! It’ll not be our fault if they catch Covid. It’s just nature taking its course.”

All perfectly sensible.

“But there is one area where I need the youth of this nation to help me out. It’s not just wearing face masks while shoplifting, or whatever past time you scallywags get up to these days, that I need your help with.”

Alright. Get on with it.

“It’s with your grandparents. You maybe aware we have a social care crisis in this country. For too long governments pursued a shortsighted agenda of helping people live longer. Long past their ability to work in the gig economy. This is a now a serious problem. Of course the funds that could be spent solving it are currently in tax havens. That is where money belongs. So what to do about all these old people hanging about the place, and between you and me, not doing much that’s useful except grandparenting?”

What indeed. Someone has to give them Covid?

“You don’t want giving them Covid that on your conscience. So let it happen as a result of other people crisscrossing the UK in search of Covid tests. World beating navigation will see us through. And if you really want to help out, take a drive to Barnard Castle and sneeze. We’re taking the right steps, at the right time. This is why you need to protect your grandparents so a rogue algorithm can take care of them, just like it did for A level tests.”

Don’t kill your granny. That’s the government’s job.


Future uncertain for Devon’s buses and trains

Public transport in Devon faces an uncertain future unless people get back on buses and trains.

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

An organisation called the Peninsula Transport Shadow Sub National Transport Body, on which local councillors sit, has been told the number of people using buses ris less than half what it used to be across Devon and Cornwall.  Train use is 35 per cent of pre-lockdown levels, but gradually increasing.

Although transport operators receive government support to ensure they continue to run loss-making services, it is uncertain about how long it will last and concerns about the impact it could have if routes stop running. Significant numbers of people are still under the impression that public transport should only be used if essential. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously said people should avoid public transport if possible, although messaging has since changed to allow  bus and train use for any purpose.

But Cllr Mark Coker said: “We have a huge rural area and if bus patronage does not return to usual soon, there will be financial implications for the bus companies and the local authorities. Are we going to actively encourage people to get back on buses, and will the DFT change their message?”

Cllr Geoff Brown added: “The original message to only use public transport if essential nosedived the passenger numbers when we didn’t have an issue with capacity in the first place. For those using the buses it was essential. We have done a lot of work to make people safe, but the messaging isn’t helpful, so can we promote public transport in the near future?”

Dave Gilnos from the Department for Transport said a huge package of funding has been established to support the continued operation of bus services and he didn’t expect any services to fall aside while the funding is in place. He said: “There will come a time when government say they cannot keep supporting the industry forever more, and the question is when that funding will cease. Social distancing is limiting capacity to 50 per cent of what it was previously, and some buses are full, but full is 50 per cent so isn’t generating the revenue it was once. Work is on under way on a bus recovery strategy that will come out in the autumn.”

Daniel Round, from GWR, added that the message was changing to ‘travel with confidence’ and to try and entice people can onto the railway. He said: “We are seeing a uplift in numbers in the westward routes. We are now up to 30 to 35 per cent, when at the height of the pandemic, it was down at two to three per cent. We have extended the agreement with the DFT until June until next year so a sign of stability, and we will change out timetable to 95 per cent of pre-pandemic services.”

40 Tory MPs Form New Group To Demand Help For Poorer Parts Of UK

A group of 40 Conservative MPs have formed a new group to keep up the pressure on Boris Johnson to fulfil his pledge to “level up” the more deprived areas of the country.

[Leader is Neil O’Brien MP for Harborough of: “The next algorithm disaster – coming to a Conservative constituency near you. This time, it’s housing growth” fame. Owl wonders whether Simon Jupp or Neil Parish are members to put the case for the us in the far South West. Or is this just for “Red Wall” MPs?]

A study published on Monday revealed earnings in seats the Conservatives won in 2019 are on average 5% lower than in Labour-held seats.

According to report by the conservative think-tank Onward, houses in Labour seats are also worth on average £62,000 a third more.

Neil O’Brien, the MP for Harborough who is helping lead the new Tory “Levelling Up Taskforce”, said: “The coronavirus crisis has only made the case for levelling up stronger so we can get the economy moving in areas that are less well off.

“Our new Taskforce will be spearheading this vital agenda.”

Onward’s analysis showed of the bottom quarter of seats in Great Britain with the lowest earnings, more are now held by the Conservatives (77) than Labour (74).

The report also highlighted that since the mid-1990s London has pulled ahead of the rest of the country.

Having been the same size as the economy of the north of England as recently as 2004, the capital’s economy is now a quarter bigger.

In London income before tax and benefits grew two-thirds faster than the rest of the UK, and income before tax and benefits is now nearly 70% higher in London than the rest of the UK, up from around 30% higher in 1997.

Many of the MPs in the new group represent seats taken from Labour’s so-called “red wall” at the election, including Redcar’s Jacob Young and Bishop Auckland’s Dehenna Davidson.

Stoke on Trent Central MP Jo Gideon said there was “a lot of untapped potential” in parts of the country that “have felt left behind for a long time”.

Johnson’s promise to deliver for the people in traditional Labour heartlands was dealt a blow after the A-level fiasco that saw students from poorer backgrounds initially have their results downgraded more than their peers from more affluent areas.

Government apologises for Covid testing delays at UK care homes

The government has been forced to apologise for continuing delays to Covid testing, which care home bosses and GPs warn are threatening to cause infections among the most vulnerable people.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) admitted to breaking its promise to provide test outcomes within 72 hours, as one nursing home operator in Cheshire told the Guardian that results have taken seven days and the delay may have caused infected staff to pass the virus to a resident.

Care managers on Monday described the government’s centralised testing system as “chaotic” and “not coping” amid reports of whole batches of tests coming back not only late, but also void. One operator in Kent said they were unable to get any tests for more than three weeks and said she felt “frustration and disgust at this outrageous treatment”. Snags with the online ordering system are also common, operators said.

Testing officials told the care home by email on Monday morning: “Immediate action has been taken at the highest levels of the programme to bring results times back within 72 hours from the time of swabbing, and to reduce the number of unclear/void results, especially where these are affecting whole homes.

“We apologise unreservedly to all care homes who have been affected for the upset these issues have caused you, your residents and your staff.”

One care home in Cheshire said staff tests took seven days to come back, and when they did three workers tested positive. They were sent home but had been working for the whole week. A resident subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, leading to fears the workers may have infected the resident.

“It’s awful. It’s like Russian roulette every week,” the manager said, describing the system as “chaotic”. “People can’t believe it’s so slow. The general public think the testing system works fine but people can be positive and working for a week and no one knows. It’s not working at all for us.”

The government had promised regular testing for care homes by the end of July, but moved the target for weekly staff tests to 7 September citing “unexpected delays”.

In August it paused the use of home testing kits issued by Randox, one of its main commercial partners working on a £133m contract, because they did not meet safety standards. This meant other providers had to make up the shortfall. Other commercial partners include Sodexo and Deloitte.

Residents are still only promised testing once every 28 days. But the turnaround of tests remains slow and there is also growing concern that results are not reliable, with positive results one week replaced by negative results the next.

The care manager in Cheshire said that because temporary agency staff who are used to fill in for isolating staff are not routinely tested, the risk remains unchecked.

Dr Claire Barker, the GP with responsibility for the residents, said: “Most staff work all over a care home and not knowing what is happening with infection is unacceptable. It inhibits the home’s ability to control the outbreak. We can’t control outbreaks if this testing regime stays in place.”

Delays in results are thought to be caused by capacity issues at testing facilities and the government has promised to boost capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of next month, helped by a new laboratory near Loughborough. The problem has become more pronounced for care homes in the last fortnight, said Vic Rayner, the executive director of the National Care Forum. This week the government said care facilities for younger people could also get weekly testing, raising fears it could further strain the system.

Rayner highlighted another problem, which is that hundreds of care home inspectors will not be tested before going into homes to carry out regulatory checks. The Care Quality Commission told care homes it had consulted with the DHSC and its inspectors “do not meet the criteria for weekly asymptomatic testing, as inspectors are not required to undertake ‘hands on’ closer personal contact with people”.

Rayner said: “The government has spent £600m on an infection control fund to stop the social care workforce moving around and between care services, so why are they not testing this discreet cohort of inspectors who do just that – move around and between services.”

Coronavirus: UK records almost 3,000 new cases for second consecutive day

The UK has recorded almost 3,000 cases of Covid-19 for a second consecutive day, raising fears of a resurgence in the virus, as Matt Hancock urged young people in particular to stick to physical distancing rules.

Government figures showed 2,948 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Monday, following the 2,988 recorded on Sunday. A week earlier, the combined UK daily total was less than 1,300.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said younger people, especially those in better-off areas, should remain observant of distancing rules if the UK was to avoid a wider return of the virus, as seen in Spain and France.

In the seven days to 7 September, there were 21.3 cases per 100,000, and a total of 14,227.

This means the UK’s weekly rate of new coronavirus cases has now risen above 20 per 100,000, the threshold at which the government considers imposing quarantine restrictions on travellers arriving from countries abroad.

The rate is up from 13.9 per 100,000 in the seven days to 31 August.

While local lockdowns have been mainly concentrated in poorer areas, Hancock said this had now changed. “The recent increase we have seen in the last few days is more broadly spread,” he said. “It’s actually among more affluent younger people where we have seen the rise.”

After almost 3,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, a 65% rise in a single day and the highest daily total since May, Hancock said the UK could soon start to see a renewed rise in hospital admissions.

Speaking on a phone-in with LBC radio, Hancock said much of the rise was among younger people, and it was vitally important for them to take measures to avoid spreading the virus. “It’s concerning because we’ve seen a rise in cases in France, in Spain, in some other countries across Europe, and nobody wants to see a second wave here,” he said.

“The rise in the number of cases we’ve seen over the last few days is largely among younger people – under-25s, especially between 17 and 21. The message to all your younger listeners is that even though you’re at lower risk of dying from Covid if you’re under 25, you can still have really serious symptoms and consequences.”

While the mortality rate among young people was lower, Hancock said, they could still be susceptible to debilitating long-term symptoms. “Also, you can infect other people. And this argument that we’ve seen that you don’t need to worry about a rise in cases because it’s young people, and they don’t die – firstly they can get very, very ill, and secondly, inevitably, it leads to older people catching it from them.”

Hancock dismissed the idea that the increase in cases was largely down to more testing, saying the figure for so-called test positivity – the proportion of tests that show someone does have Covid-19 – was also going up.

The point was reiterated by Downing Street, as Boris Johnson’s spokesman urged people to act. “The rise in the number of cases is concerning, and we’re seeing them predominantly among young people,” he said. “Generally, a rise in cases among younger people leads to a rise in cases across the population as a whole. That’s why it’s so important that people maintain social distancing and don’t allow this illness to infect older generations.”

Answering questions from listeners, Hancock played down the potential impact of medical supplies if the UK leaves the EU with no long-term trade deal, saying this would not be nearly as bad as if there had been no initial deal.

Hancock was questioned after it emerged that Johnson was drawing up legislation that would override the Brexit withdrawal agreement on Northern Ireland, threatening to collapse talks with the EU.

“We already have a deal. The question is whether we can land a long-term future trade agreement,” Hancock said. Asked if he could guarantee no disruption to medical supplies, he said: “I’m comfortable that we’ve done the work that is needed.”

Speaking to one Nottingham-based listener, Hancock accepted that there had been difficulties in getting people Covid tests near them, after the man said he had been sent for a test in Dundee, nearly 350 miles away.

This had happened 10 days ago, the man said. Hancock replied that the system had since improved. “We’ve changed that now so that people get offered tests within 75 miles, which is still quite a hike, if you need to.”

He added: “The good news is that the vast majority of people get offered access to a test at their local testing centre, and it’s turned around very rapidly – the vast majority of results come the next day. But there have been problems and we’re increasing capacity.”