CORONAVIRUS - an update from Chichester District Council
From Chichester District Council
Thursday 16 April 2020
Issued by the Public Relations Team – firstname.lastname@example.org
This briefing is to keep you updated on the evolving situation around coronavirus (COVID-19) and the actions being taken in the district.
Who does it affect?
- Residents and businesses within the district
- Chichester District Council staff and councillors
- Parish councils
- Community groups and charitable organisations
In this briefing
- Latest update
- Service changes
- PPE – can you help?
- Community hub
- Community guide
- Post office scheme for vulnerable people
- Waste and recycling service
- Supporting our communities over the Easter period
- Supporting businesses
- Self-employment income support scheme
- Customer Services
- My Sisters' House Women's Centre
- Resources and helpline on child sexual abuse (CSA)
At last night’s Downing Street address, Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP began by thanking Captain Tom Moore for raising more than £7 million for NHS charities. Overnight, this has increased to over £12 million!
Mr Hancock said that, so far, everyone who has contracted coronavirus has had access to the best NHS care. However, he said that we cannot let up of our efforts and that the shared sacrifice is starting to work.
He has also announced next steps for adult social care to protect residents and staff:
- all care home residents discharged from hospitals will be tested before going back to their care homes and that symptomatic. residents will all be tested.
- an increase in PPE being made available to staff.
- introduction of a single ‘brand’ for adult social care to allow staff to identify themselves and to wear as a “badge of honour”.
- recruiting more people into adult social care.
- introducing new procedures to give people the chance to say goodbye to dying loved ones.
- Stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
- Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
Please visit www.chichester.gov.uk/councilservicestatus for the latest information.
PPE – can you help?
Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF), which brings together public service agencies in responding to Covid-19, is appealing to businesses for vital personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to help protect frontline workers delivering essential services to Sussex residents during Covid-19.
As the nation faces unprecedented demand for PPE, there is a very limited supply coming into the county for social workers, care home staff, firefighters and volunteers, with the NHS understandably being prioritised.
If your business or organisation has these vital supplies to protect frontline workers, we urge you to contact the Sussex Resilience Forum. We are short of items such as masks, hand sanitiser and gloves which are fundamental for the good care of individuals with suspected symptoms of Covid-19.
We are hoping that all types of businesses and organisations from high street beauty salons through to academic institutions that use these products daily can help us by offering stocks whilst they are closed. If you have any items from the specific list below, we would be very grateful for donations as soon as possible. We also ask that any suppliers that can manufacture PPE contact us urgently. Donations can be made by contacting SussexResilienceForum@sussex.pnn.police.uk Delivery and collection can be arranged.
- Eye protection EN166:2001 Frame Marking: 3
- Hand sanitiser gel (greater than 60% alcohol)
- Disposable overshoes CE marked
- Disposable overalls CE marked
- Disposable plastic apron (single use)
- Disposable gloves (single use) EN:374/5 (Viral protection)/nitrile purple/ nitrile blue
- Fluid repellent surgical mask (single use) Type 11R medical use
- Drager dust masks
- Hand soap
- Surface cleanser spray
- Universal cleaner
- Cleaning cloths
- Blue wiper roll
- Industrial cleaning wipes (excess of 60% alcohol or a disinfectant contained within it)
- Jumbo toilet roll
- Paper hand towel
The Community Hub aims to support the most vulnerable residents in our communities. You can contact the Community Hub if you, or someone you know, need help, or if you want to volunteer your services in these difficult times. This is available seven days a week and staff are on hand to respond to enquiries from 8am-8pm. The team is contacting the most vulnerable to tell them how to get help. The best way to contact the hub is online; if you have access go to www.westsussex.gov.uk/covid19communityhub. A dedicated telephone helpline is also available for residents who are unable to go online: 033 022 27980. We are trying to keep the resources available through the hub for those who are most vulnerable, so if you do have support in place already, such as from family or friends, then please continue to use their support.
Since the coronavirus crisis began, people from across our district have been pulling together and demonstrating a real sense of community, and that’s something we should all be incredibly proud of. Unfortunately, at times such as this, we also see a rise in the exploitation of vulnerable people, and the unease, uncertainty and anxiety that many of us are feeling at this time. This is why we are encouraging people to be on their guard. Thankfully, the majority of the support that is in place across the district is delivered by established community and support groups, but we all need to be cautious, especially with online, email and phone scams. We have included advice and guidance on this topic within our new community guide, which can be found at www.chichester.gov.uk/helpyourneighbour. This also includes important telephone numbers, email address and web addresses for key organisations and support groups across the district. We are hoping that this will provide extra support and reassurance to both residents and community groups at this difficult time.
A direct link to the community guide is here https://www.chichester.gov.uk/media/33362/Supporting-your-local-communities-guide---Coronavirus-COVID-19/pdf/Community_guide_8.4.20_web.pdf.
We have also designed a downloadable ‘help your neighbours’ flyer and provided further advice to those who want to help local neighbours and friends at https://www.chichester.gov.uk/helpyourneighbour .
Post office scheme for vulnerable people
Post Office is making two of its products – ‘Payout Now’ and ‘Fast PACE’ (a pre-authorised cheque encashment service) available to all UK’s banks, building societies and credit unions so they can be offered to any of their customers who are most in need of access to cash simply and speedily during this national emergency.
The improved services mean that self-isolating or vulnerable citizens affected by the coronavirus pandemic can now contact their financial institution to see if they choose to offer these and arrange to withdraw cash quickly from their normal accounts through any local Post Office branch, with the help of a trusted friend, family member, carer or local support worker.
‘Payout Now’ is the Post Office’s one time voucher service that is available to all banks, building societies and credit unions to enable them to send a barcode voucher to their customers via text, email or in the post and which can be exchanged for cash in any Post Office branch. To find out more, please visit http://corporate.postoffice.co.uk/our-media-centre#/pressreleases/post-office-makes-access-to-cash-products-available-faster-to-help-self-isolating-individuals-during-coronavirus-pandemic-2990603
Waste and recycling service
Our household waste and recycling services have been operating as normal. We have redeployed staff from other areas of the council to assist with collections, as well as recruiting new staff. You can be assured that we are all working very hard to support our local communities and to keep our services running. We would also like to thank those residents who have been coming out to clap our workers and leave messages of thanks for them – our crews have been really touched by this. We’re also advising people to keep hold of old clothes until the lockdown measures are lifted, because it has been brought to our attention that the textile banks, which are operated by supermarkets and charities, are not currently being emptied. We’ve also seen an increase in fly tipping, so if you are getting rid of DIY waste, please either keep hold of it until the lockdown ends or make sure you use a registered waste carrier to remove it.
Supporting our communities over the Easter period
Over the bank holiday weekend, our staff and senior leadership team were out supporting our local communities, including working at Stonepillow preparing food for the homeless and helping to empty people’s bins. They reported that people in Selsey were out clapping our refuse crews, leaving messages of support and even supplying them with chocolates! This really does mean a lot and our crews have been really touched by the level of support they have received.
Our Chief Executive, Diane Shepherd, and her fellow colleagues from the senior leadership team helped out at Stonepillow over the Easter weekend. Two further members of the senior leadership team also helped our refuse crews empty bins in Selsey and Birdham & Itchenor.
Support for businesses
We have also been busy supporting businesses, including contacting those who are eligible for government assistance to make them aware of the support that is available. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a number of support measures, including grants for businesses in receipt of ‘Small Business Rate Relief’ and ‘Rural Rate Relief’, as well as financial help for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in premises with a rateable value below £51,000. We’re encouraging businesses within these categories to apply for financial support on our website at www.chichester.gov.uk/businessratesmarch2020 We have already started issuing grants, but we want to make sure that all of those businesses that are eligible make sure that they get their application in as soon as possible. In total, we will receive and issue up to £37 million in government grant funding for businesses in the Chichester District. We are also keen to make businesses aware that we have received reports of scams that claim to be linked to the government grant scheme. Please be aware that these grants can only be issued by us. If you need any help, please contact us directly by emailing email@example.com
Self-employment income support scheme
HMRC has published how it works out total income and trading profits for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Please note, it is not possible to make a claim yet. HMRC will aim to contact those who are eligible for the scheme by mid-May 2020 and invite them to claim using the GOV.UK online service. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Council tax reduction scheme
More information is now available about council tax reductions available in Chichester District.
Every working age household who receives a Council Tax Reduction in 2020/21 will receive an additional reduction to their council tax bill. This means:
- they will have a reduction to their Council Tax bill by a further £150 (note: this only applies if there is a balance of £150 or more left to pay during 2020/2)
- that anyone who has less than £150 to pay on their Council Tax balance e.g. £100 left will receive £100 not the £150.
If anyone is concerned about being able to pay council tax bills due to the impact of the coronavirus, please let us know as soon as possible. In addition to the normal options that we offer, such as our council tax reduction scheme, we have also been suggesting that people can pay their council tax in instalments over twelve months or even spread them between June 2020 and March 2021. We are trying to do all we can to assist people through these very challenging times. If you, or someone you know, would like to find out more about this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or if you do not have online access, please call us on 01243 785166. Please consider using our online services wherever possible. This will keep essential lines free for those without access to the internet. You can find out more here https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/33911/Council-tax-help-for-residents-in-the-Chichester-District
We are continuing to receive reports of bonfires being lit across the district. We’re sending out further reminders to encourage people to consider the health of local residents with respiratory problems and not light fires if this can be at all avoided. https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/33909/Council-warns-against-bonfires-during-coronavirus-outbreak
Although our priority is to focus on our critical services and to support you through this crisis, we have also been moving forward with some of our other key projects as well. This includes continuing to work closely with our Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan, and West Sussex County Council, to try and secure funding for the funding for the A27. Following a meeting with Highways England, we’re pleased to tell you that the A27 Chichester Bypass major improvement scheme is included in a list of projects to be developed for possible future funding. Highways England has said that £300 million is available for preparatory work into 32 possible schemes nationwide - although only some of these will be included in its next Road Investment Strategy for the 2025-30 period (RIS3). This is great news and a very positive step, but we will be one of many authorities competing for funding and so we will need to make a very good business case for a major A27 scheme. We must stress that nothing is guaranteed, and at the moment, it’s too early to say what any scheme will look like, but we will be writing to Highways England to ask for an open and transparent process to take place for all our residents, workers and businesses. In considering the options, we will also be asking Highways England to set out its reasons clearly and provide evidence for any deliverable and non-deliverable options.
Staff are working hard to improve the customer service options available both online and through the council switchboard.
Teams are currently dealing with high call volumes and so we are encouraging people to use our online services or contact us by email in the first instance if they have online access. This will keep essential lines free for those with an urgent need or those without access to the internet. For those who need to contact us by phone, they should call 01243 785166.
My Sisters' House Women's Centre
My Sisters’ House Women’s Centre has extended its domestic abuse helplines to include 8-10pm in the evenings which includes live chat also via their website: www.mysistershouse.info – clicking on the speech bubble on left hand side at the bottom.
Resources and helpline on child sexual abuse (CSA)
The government wants to ensure that the public and professionals are aware of the resources and helplines they can access to help them prevent Child Sexual Abuse. There is support available through the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, such as:
There are also resources available specifically for children, young people, parents and carers:
- a confidential helpline (Stop It Now! – 0808 1000 900) for anyone who is concerned about their own behaviour or the behaviour of others – this can be accessed by any member of the public or by professionals who need advice on child sexual abuse risk whether they are concerned about the behaviour of an adult or someone under-18. There is also a secure messaging service available through https://contactus.stopitnow.org.uk/.
- information and advice on child sexual abuse through their website: https://www.stopitnow.org.uk/
- The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command Centre (CEOP) have just launched a campaign (#OnlineSafetyAtHome) promoting their resources on preventing all forms of online child sexual abuse; this includes resources for all age groups and for those concerned about sexting – https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
- There are resources for parents on the NSPCC website about online safety and all forms of child sexual abuse: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/