This paper provides an overview of the current rail system, including how it is delivered and how it performed and was financed up until the spring of 2020 when the UK locked down in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. It explains the impact of the pandemic on services and funding and sets out reforms to rail passenger services (franchises) as a result of the pandemic. The final section discusses the Williams Rail Review, initiated in 2018 and yet to report publicly, setting out the emerging conclusions and key questions to be answered.

The Government's Loneliness Strategy was published in October 2018. It set out a wide variety of cross-departmental measures that the Government would take to provide 'national leadership' to tackle loneliness in England. As well as explaining the Strategy and the steps taken so far by the Government, this briefing also looks at research into the causes and impact of loneliness and possible interventions. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on loneliness is also considered, alongside the measures introduced by the Government in response. Finally, this paper briefly outlines the situation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.