Coronavirus bill - summary of impacts

Introduction

This document provides a summary of impacts relating to clauses within the Coronavirus Bill 2020. As this is temporary, emergency legislation, a formal impact assessment is not required for Better Regulation purposes. However, this document provides an overview of the impacts considered for each clause. An equalities assessment has been carried out separately, as part of the Public Sector Equalities Duty.

Aims of the Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to provide powers needed to respond to the current coronavirus epidemic. Powers are for use only if needed, judged on the basis of the clinical and scientific advice. Safeguards have been built in to ensure that powers are only used as necessary, for example during the peak of a coronavirus outbreak. The aim is to balance the need for speed, as appropriate to the risk posed by the virus, with safeguards to ensure proper oversight and accountability.

The Bill has four primary categories of effect: enhancing capacity and the flexible deployment of staff; easing of legislative and regulatory requirements; containing and slowing the virus; and managing the deceased.

Risk

The policies in the Bill are designed for use temporarily in an emergency. They are strong in nature, and risks have been considered and discussed throughout this assessment, but it is recognised that in a pandemic situation, with potentially very high counterfactual costs, firm actions may be the most desirable to protect individuals.

Approach to summary of impacts

For the purposes of this summary of impacts, the approach taken has largely been to treat monetised costs and benefits as zero because the Bill is temporary, enabling legislation. This is to say that decisions on whether and how to use elements of the Bill would be taken at some future point, which would require judgement on the specific impacts at that time. For many of the clauses, it is difficult to predict how a power would be used in a specific context, and therefore what the monetised costs would be. Thus, discussion of impacts is largely focussed on unmonetised considerations.